On water towing campaign results

6 February 2013

Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) Acting Manager Boating Safety and Regional Operations Scott Kidd today announced the recent Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) campaign to raise awareness about towing safety resulted in more than 100 boaters being fined.

“RMS Boating Safety Officers conducted random checks of 2403 vessels on NSW waterways during Operation Tow Safe which ran from 12 to 25 January,” Mr Kidd said.

“This resulted in 104 fines and 123 formal warnings being issued and shows the majority of people - 90.6 per cent - were doing the right thing.

“The most common fine issued was for lifejacket non compliance – which can be anything from not carrying enough lifejackets for all on board, to not keeping them in good condition to not wearing them when legally required to.

“There were nine towing related fines for sports like water-skiing and wakeboarding.

“The most significant towing issues occurred in the Sydney region where there were three penalty notices issued for towing without an observer and three for towing more than three people.

“The worst single example of non-compliance also occurred in the Sydney region when an unregistered personal watercraft with an unlicensed driver not wearing a lifejacket was found towing a person not wearing a lifejacket without an observer in a no towing zone.

“Two fines were issued in the Tweed area for towing using under age observer and not maintaining the required 30 metres safe distance from a bridge at speed.

“In the southern part of the State, a vessel less than 4.8 metres was observed towing two people wearing lifejackets. However, the vessel was found to be short two lifejackets for the number of people on board.

“In the Murray/ Inland area a six week old baby was observed in a speed boat while towing at a high speed.

“A vessel was also observed towing with an eight year old observer when legally the observer must be more than 16 or the holder of a young adult boat licence.

“A compliance rate of more than 90 per cent is encouraging but it is crucial all boaters who engage in towing activities are aware of their responsibilities. 

 “Since November 2011, there have been nine towing related incidents resulting in one fatality, eight serious injuries and one minor injury,” Mr Kidd said.

For more information on towing and boat safety go to www.maritime.nsw.gov.au and http://www.boatforlife.com.au/tow-safe/tow-safety/

Editor’s note: the total fine for the worst single example of non-compliance during the campaign was $750 (operate PWC tow person without observer - $500 and person on PWC not wear appropriate lifejacket - $250). The same person received formal warnings for another four offences – tow person by PWC within 60 metres of person or non-powered vessel, $250; operate vessel tow more than three people without approval, $100; master unregistered vessel, $250; holder contravene condition of marine safety licence, $100.

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