Authorities Encourage Safety on West Michigan Roads, Waters During Holiday Weekend

Posted at 7:12 PM, May 23, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-23 19:12:12-04

two small coast guard boatsWEST MICHIGAN (May 23, 2014) – West Michigan authorities are encouraging everyone to be safe this Memorial Day weekend.

More than 160 police agencies in 40 counties across the state are putting extra officers on alert to crack down on drivers not wearing seat belts, part of the “Click It or Ticket” campaign. According to Michigan law, drivers and front seat passengers must be wearing seat belts. Children under 8 years old, or shorter than 4 foot 9 must be in a car seat.

Safety on the roads is not the only concern, as many people will be on the water this weekend as well. Police are encouraging boaters to be careful, use common sense, and take all necessary steps to avoid tragedy on the water. The Kent County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol offers six tips:

  • Wear a life jacket: 70 percent of boating fatalities involve drowning, and of those who drowned, nearly 90 percent of them were not wearing a life jacket.
  • Make sure your boat is properly equipped and our equipment is in good working order: Carry all legally required equipment, such as life jackets and fire extinguishers. First aid kits and charts of the area are also recommended.
  • Avoid alcohol: As much as 50 percent of all boating accidents involve alcohol. Alcohol affects your judgement, balance, and vision. Studies have shown that passengers are also ten times more likely to fall overboard when they have been consuming alcohol. Please, wait until you get home to celebrate with a drink.
  • File a Float Plan: Similar to a flight plan for a pilot, a float plan gives the “who, what when, and where” of your trip. File the plan with a friend of family member on shore, and include clear instructions for contacting the Sheriff or Coast Guard in the event that you do not return from your voyage when expected.
  • Maintain a sharp lookout: More boats will be on the water this weekend than any other time of the year. It is important to be alert for other boaters in order to avoid a collision. This is especially true when operating near a bend, in crowded areas, and at night or during conditions of strict visibility.
  • Carry a marine radio or cell phone: Be prepared to call for help in the event that you are involved in an accident, your boat becomes disabled, or you otherwise need assistance. Be sure there is a full battery charge on your cell phone before heading out on the water, but be aware of the cell phone service gaps on the water.

Boaters and drivers alike need to be prepared and safe. By following these simple tips, everyone should be able to enjoy a relaxing holiday on the water, and on the roads.