Set Sail Safely This Summer

boating safety in erie and pennsylvania

With Lake Erie nearby and Pittsburgh's rivers and events like the Regatta right around the corner, boating safety is important for everyone to consider across the region. From following Pennsylvania's boating laws to performing routine safety checks on your watercraft, there are many things to keep in mind to protect yourself and any passengers.

Pennsylvania Boating Laws

Pennsylvania's boating laws vary based on the type of boat or wave runner you use. You can visit the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission's website for information on lifejackets, the PA Boating Handbook, boating course information, charter and fishing boat guides, and more. Remember that in Pennsylvania, you need a Boating Safety Education Certificate to operate any type of boat.

Operate Safe & Sober

Boating is such an enjoyable activity that it's easy to forget a boat is still a type of vehicle. It's critical (and it's the law) to operate a boat with control and precision. Never operate a boat in a dangerous or aggressive manner. Most boating accidents occur due to speeding or reckless operation. If you fail to operate a boat safely because you're under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you could face fines and other penalties. You also could cause a boating accident, and if you injure someone else you could be held responsible for their medical bills, missed work time, and pain and suffering. If you plan to include alcohol in your summer festivities, save it for dry land – and never get behind the wheel of any vehicle unless you're safe and sober.

Safety Checks

Don't forget to perform regular maintenance and safety checks on your boat or watercraft. Also, occasionally manufacturers will issue recalls on boat parts due to defects or unsafe designs. Be sure to register your boat and sign up to receive notifications on recalls.

More Accident Prevention Tips

  • Follow all regulations when operating a boat, including speed and motor regulations.
  • Slow down so there is no wake within 100 feet of any shoreline, float, dock, ramp, swimmers, waterskiers in the water, anchored boats, etc.
  • Don't operate a boat too close to swimmers or other boats. Always allow plenty of time to avoid a collision, because it takes a boat longer to change direction or stop than another vehicle such as a car.
  • Use running lights between dusk and dawn, as well as in rainy and foggy conditions.
  • Carry a whistle and/or bell to make noise when necessary (much like a car horn) to avoid a collision or to alert others that you're in trouble. Carry visual distress signals as well.

For those who plan to take part in the Regatta, enjoy this popular event in the ‘Burgh! We wish everyone a safe remainder of the summer.