After NJ teen dies in boat crash, cops highlight water safety tips
Every summer in New Jersey, there are more than a hundred boating accidents, dozens of people get injured and a handful of these accidents are fatal, U.S. Coast Guard data shows.
Last week, a 19-year-old Morris County man was killed after his pontoon boat crashed into a marker in Barnegat Bay at 1:30 in the morning.
If you’re headed out onto the water at night, Sgt. Dale Pearce of the New Jersey State Police Marine Services Bureau said “make sure that your navigational lights are on and you take it slow. There are no headlights or streetlights out on the water so it’s hard to see, taking it slow will prevent any issues.”
He said it’s important to wear a life jacket when you’re out on a boat.
“Think of it as a seatbelt,” he said. “If you wear a seatbelt it will save your life, if you wear a life jacket it will save your life.”
Pearce noted another important thing to keep in mind is “you want to maintain a proper lookout, you want to make sure that everybody on that boat is looking out for any types of danger. Looking out ahead of you and giving you observations that you might be missing as you’re operating.”
He pointed out to bolster safety the Coast Guard enacted a new law this year.
“If your boat is equipped with a cutoff lanyard it must be attached to the operator,” he said. “What this will do is it will stop the engine if the operator leaves the driver’s seat per say, or even worse if he gets thrown off the boat.”
He also said it’s never a good idea to consume alcohol and then start driving a boat around.
“We don’t want anybody to drink and operate a boat,” said Pearce. “We want everyone to have fun, be safe out on the water.”
Boat and jet ski operators need to complete boating safety courses and pass a test.
“When you’re not sure go slow," he said. "I always like to say go as fast as you want to crash.”