Texas game wardens keeping watch on Memorial Day weekend boaters

Safety tips from Texas Parks and Wildlife

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter, Joe Herrera - Photojournalist

BANDERA COUNTY, Texas - With South Central Texas basking in good weather this Memorial Day weekend, boaters are flocking to Texas lakes.

Texas game wardens are keeping an eye out for problems, hoping to avoid any tragedies like the 29 boating deaths in Texas last year. To keep you safe, here are some tips and information on:

Life Jackets: Everyone on board a boat or paddle craft must have a life jacket, and children under 13 years old need to have them on while the boat is underway.

"Drowning is the highest reported cause of death in boating fatalities, and most victims are found not wearing a life jacket," said Cody Jones, TPWD assistant commander for Marine Enforcement, in a news release.

Drinking: Texas permits the consumption of alcohol on boats, including by the vessel's operator, though TPWD does not recommend it. However, the boat's operator can be charged with boating while intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. BWI carries similar penalties to driving while intoxicated charges, including possible driver's license suspension.

Game wardens issued 162 boating under the influence or BWI charges in 2018, according to a TPWD news release.

Kill Switches: Many motorized boats come with a safety ignition kill switch that will shut off the motor if the operator falls overboard. However, to work, it must be attached to the operator.

Many of the 29 deaths in 2018 could have been prevented with the use of a kill switch, Jones said in a news release.

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