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Aaron Gross

Colonel Aaron Gross

Director, Massachusetts Environmental Police

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With Memorial Day approaching, the Patrick-Murray Administration has proclaimed May 18-24 Safe Boating Week in Massachusetts as part of a national campaign to encourage safe boating practices.

A personal floatation device, or lifejacket, may be the most important piece of safety equipment for any boater. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were 651 boating fatalities nationwide last year. Of those fatalities, the number one cause was drowning. Of those who drowned, 83 percent were not wearing a lifejacket.

Click here for more information about national accident statistics.

Last year, there were 68 reported boating accidents in Massachusetts, resulting in 17 fatalities. That number is up from 46 reported boating accidents that resulted in nine fatalities in 2011. Drowning was the number one cause of fatalities in both years, and none of those victims wore lifejackets.

While lifejackets are important, that won’t do it alone. Always travel at reasonable speeds and always avoid operating boats under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Environmental Police Officers will be patrolling rivers, lakes and coastal waters across the Commonwealth throughout the season to enforce state and federal recreational boating laws.

We also encourage boaters of all ages and experience to take a safe boating course. Click here for registration information and links to nationally approved course providers.

For more information on safe boating courses, contact the Environmental Police Boat and Recreational Vehicle Safety Bureau at (508) 564-4961 and to report accidents, call (800) 632-8075.

Remember when you’re out on the water, safety first. I hope everyone has a safe and pleasant boating season.

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