State natural resources officials are starting to look at what more can be done to assure safety on the increasingly busy waterways in South Carolina.
Last year, the state’s number of registered boats surpassed 485,000, ranking it seventh-highest in the nation.
Recommendations from the Department of Natural Resources – whatever they are – will go to the Legislature for adoption sometime after Jan. 1.
The push for change is coming amid an outcry over a series of deaths on lakes that have caused some veteran boaters on Lake Murray to stop sailing in the dark.
“Unfortunately, it takes tragedies to move things forward sometimes,” DNR law enforcement spokesman Capt. Robert McCullough said of the wreck that injured David Stradling and his three grandchildren two years ago.
The frustration on Lake Murray has been building since four people died during a pair of unrelated but nearly simultaneous collisions in May 2010.
Like Stradling, shoreline groups want mandatory training for boaters, mandatory life jackets, tougher penalties for operating a boat while intoxicated and speed limits on cruising at night.
“An educated boater is a safer boater,” said Andy Hyman of Chapin, head of the Midlands division of the U.S. Power Squadron, a boating safety group.
“And we need more consequences for BUI than we have today.”