IDNR Reminds Boaters to Wear Life Jackets and Stay Sober

Illinois Conservation Police Officers (CPOs) are reminding boat operators to always drive sober and to wear life jackets – life-saving reminders heading into the state’s busiest boating season Illinois will join in the observance of National Safe Boating Week, May 18-24, leading into the Memorial Day holiday weekend (May 25-27). Statistics compiled by the IDNR Office of Law Enforcement show 68 boating-related accidents in Illinois in 2018, resulting in 34 injuries and 18 fatalities. Annual boating accident statistics are compiled based on the Federal Fiscal Year of October 1 through September 30. Illinois law requires that properly-fitting U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFDs – life jackets or life vests – be available for each person aboard a boat or other watercraft. State law also requires that anyone under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket while aboard any watercraft under 26 feet in length at all times the boat is underway, unless they are below deck in an enclosed cabin or operating on private property. Illinois law also requires persons of any age to wear a PFD while operating a personal watercraft or Jet Ski. The IDNR offers free boating safety courses that provide a review of boating laws and regulations, as well as instructions on safe and attentive operation of watercraft and encourages boaters of all ages to take a safety course. Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1998 must pass a course and have a valid Boating Safety Certificate to operate a motorboat (with over 10 horsepower). The free safety courses, taught by volunteer instructors, are available throughout Illinois; schedules are available by checking the IDNR website’s boating information page at There were 245,621 registered boats in Illinois in 2018.



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