Boaters and personal watercraft users are being reminded to prioritize safety on the Colorado River.
Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft, the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), American Medical Response, the Clark County Fire Department, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Bullhead City held a news conference highlighting their concerns and reminding the public to be vigilant about safety on the river. The event was held in Laughlin at the veterans’ memorial flag display next to Don Laughlin's Riverside Resort Hotel and Casino.
“We want everyone to enjoy the river and all that Laughlin has to offer, but safety must remain top of mind for boaters and personal watercraft operators,” Commissioner Naft said. “Nationally, the number of accidents, injuries and deaths has increased one-quarter, according to the most recent statistics available. We must better educate the boating community so that together we can tackle this very serious problem.” The United States Coast Guard figures are for 2020: https://uscgboating.org/statistics/accident_statistics.php.
One primary concern is driving boats under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. .08 blood-alcohol content is the limit, just like with operating a vehicle on land. Alcohol use can be dangerous for passengers, too, as they may easily slip, fall overboard or suffer other life-threatening incidents.
Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed and machinery failure rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents, officials said.
Life jacket use is important. Anyone under the age of 13 must have a life jacket on whenever a boat is underway. Life jackets must be the correct size and fit for the individual wearing it and be in working order.
Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1983, is required to pass a state and National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)-approved boating safety course. Courses may be found at https://www.ndow.org/learn-discover/outdoor-education/#.
The Colorado River is a congested waterway, especially on weekends and holidays. Multiple types of vessels including float tubes, kayaks, personal watercraft and boats fill the river. People need to be aware of their surroundings. Watercraft operators should not execute sharp turns without checking what is behind them. They should not splash beach-goers or other personal watercraft. Operators also should not follow directly behind personal watercraft as sudden stops can lead to accidents, sometimes with deadly consequences.
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability. With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 11th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to 2.3 million citizens and 45.6 million visitors a year (2019). Included are the nation’s 7th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The County also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to 1 million residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.