Operation highlights boaters taking safer approach to towing

23 January 2015

Results from the latest statewide boating education and compliance campaign show NSW boaters are demonstrating an improved awareness of safe towing rules.

Roads and Maritime Services Maritime Director Angus Mitchell said during Operation Tow Safe which ran from Saturday 10 to Sunday 18 January, 14 towing-related fines and 20 formal warnings were issued to boaters who were found to be in breach of NSW towing legislation.

“This year less than half the fines than the January 2014 operation when 33 fines and 16 formal warnings which were issued for towing breaches,” Mr Mitchell said.

“It is encouraging to think that the safe towing message is getting through.

“Marine towing activities such as waterskiing and aquaplaning can be risky and requires specialist knowledge. All involved to follow the rules for the safety of everyone out on the water.

“In the past five years in NSW there were 57 towing incidents which resulted in six fatalities and 41 serious injuries.

Mr Mitchell said during Operation Tow Safe, 2874 vessel safety checks of boats, including those involved in towing activities, were randomly carried out on waterways across the State by Roads and Maritime Services boating safety officers.

“A total of 920 or 32 per cent of all vessels checked were ski vessels engaged in towing activities.

“Overall there was a 90.81 per cent compliance rate by boaters, which is a 3.7 per cent improvement overall on the results from last year’s campaign.

“Lifejacket non-compliance continues to be the biggest battle for boating regulators in NSW with 39 fines issued – representing 30 per cent of the total fines - during the campaign for failure to wear a lifejacket, 23 fines for not carrying enough lifejackets on board, as legally required.

“Boaters must ensure everyone wears a lifejacket throughout the day on small boats which are under way, but there are also times when lifejacket wear is required by law.

“Anyone younger than 12 years must wear a lifejacket at all times on a boat less than 4.8 metres in length and in open areas of a moving vessel 4.8 metre to 8 metres in length.

“And of course, a person being towed needs to always wear a lifejacket regardless of their age, weather conditions or the size of the boat.”

Mr Mitchell said another important rule involved with safe towing was raised during an evening patrol near Bundalong on the Murray River during the campaign when two verbal warnings were issued to two vessels for towing after sunset.

“Boaters are reminded towing after sunset is not allowed for safety reasons due to limited visibility,” he said.

For more information on towing and general boating safety visit Maritime.

CONTACT: Roads and Maritime Services Media Unit - 8588 5999

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