The IDNR and Illinois Conservation Police stress the importance of wearing life jackets and abstaining from alcohol while boating during the upcoming summer season.

National Safe Boating Week, occurring from May 20-26, aims to raise awareness about boating safety. In 2022, Illinois witnessed 52 boating accidents, resulting in six deaths and 40 injuries.

Most incidents occur on weekends between noon and 6 p.m. during the summer months, involving operators aged 20 to 40 with limited safety training.

The IDNR offers free boating safety courses that cover laws, regulations, and safe watercraft operation. Mandatory for individuals born after January 1, 1998, a safety course and Boating Safety Certificate are required to operate motorboats with over 10 horsepower. Boaters aged 12 to 17 must also complete boating safety education.

The Illinois Conservation Police strictly enforce operating under the influence (OUI) laws, arresting 72 boaters in 2022. Wearing life jackets is crucial, as none of the fatalities involved alcohol or drug impairment.

Compliance with PFD regulations is mandatory, with exceptions for specific scenarios. Prioritizing safety, particularly by wearing life jackets, is vital for boaters and paddlers.

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