With the summer winding down and school ready to start back up, weekends become one last chance to get out on Utah's lakes to enjoy the heat and the sun. And though the holidays of July are behind us, it is important to remember that the state of Utah isn't just cracking down on safety violations on Utah's roads, they are also doing it out on the water.
So why spurred the attention to Utah water safety? Well according to Steven Garrick of the Utah Lake State Park, the extra attention "means the difference between making an unfortunate call to a loved one or saving your life."
There are state laws in place, and "we want to educate people," Garrick said. One of the violations Utah authorities have spent the summer cracking down on is driving a boat while drunk. "The same impairments apply, the same reaction times apply when operating a vessel," said Garrick.
Perhaps the biggest issue Garrick and his fellow officials look for on the water is life jackets. Under Utah law, there must be one life jacket for every person aboard a boat and all children under the age of 13 must be in a life jacket the whole time.
While search and rescue response times are fast, it can still take a long time to locate you, especially if the weather is rough. Utah Lake State Park borrows life jackets for free to those who need them.
With a focus on safety, Garrick and his team are working to reduce the number of DUIs occurring on Utah's waterways, as well as promote safe boating practices that include using life jackets and understanding when weather conditions are too severe to remain out on the water.
In the meantime, Utah Lake State Park is working on a reward system the encourages safe boating practices. In return for meeting safety requirements, boaters would be awarded gift cards as a means of increasing better boating practices across the state.