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Speeding and lifejackets message not getting through

MSQ enforcement officers were out in force over the spring school holiday period (17 September to 3 October), determined to raise boaties’ awareness of boating’s ‘fatal five’ while reinforcing safe boating practices.

The fatal five are:

  • failure to keep a proper lookout
  • failure to carry and use the appropriate safety equipment (particularly lifejackets)
  • speeding
  • alcohol and drugs use
  • poor trip planning.
  • MSQ has been educating boaties intensively about these issues, with a particular focus this year on lifejackets.

Given these efforts, enforcement officers were disappointed the message did not appear to be getting through to many boaties.

Of the 244 vessels intercepted around the state, just over half were non-compliant with safety regulations in some way.

Disturbingly, 53 per cent of those not complying were either speeding or infringing lifejacket requirements.

In 13 per cent of cases, boaties were not carrying lifejackets at all or were carrying defective lifejackets that might not have worked when needed.

It is hard to overstate the importance of lifejackets in saving lives. Of the 272 people who drowned after boating incidents in Queensland between 1992 and 2021, only 15 were known to have been wearing lifejackets.

MSQ officers also came across several boats where skippers and passengers did not know how to put on their lifejackets.

It is imperative that boaties make sure they have the right lifejacket on board for their chosen location, that they fit correctly, are properly maintained and that that the skipper has ensured everyone on board knows where they are and how to put them on.

Better still, they should be wearing them, because accidents on the water can happen very quickly and it can be difficult to reach a stowed lifejacket.

Your lifejacket can’t save you if you’re not wearing it.

The number of boaties caught speeding was also cause for concern.

Of all the serious injuries arising from reported marine incidents in 2021, 20 per cent were caused by excessive speed.

From MSQ’s 244 vessel intercepts, enforcement officers took an educative approach on 78 occasions but also found it necessary to issue 37 fines and 27 cautions.

Those are numbers we would like to reduce as we enter peak boating season over the summer school holidays, so our officers will again be out on the water in the coming weeks trying to achieve exactly that.

Our message to boaties is simple—enjoy our waterways but slow down, keep watch and remember that lifejackets save lives only if you are wearing them.

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