Compiled by Mel Coker, Lake Murray Realtor

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The Handbook of South Carolina Boating Laws and Responsibilities

S.C. Department of Natural Resources Telephone: (800) 922-5431

Having lived on Lake Murray for 9 years (and boating for many years on the lake before that), I belive that in general, the majority of boaters at Lake Murray practice safe and courteous boating. However, I have seen evidence of poor judgment and and a lack of courtesy and there have been tragic and avoidable injuries and deaths on the lake.

South Carolina ranks #8 (2010) in total boat registrations by state, so, there are lots of boats on South Carolina lakes. There were 27 deaths in South Carolina boating accidents in 2010 - an increase of 245% over 2009.

In 2010, three men were charged with felony BUI related to a pair of May 1st boat collisions in which four people died on Lake Murray. Killed were 24 and 25 year old females and 21 and 36 year old males. These two accidents happened within 30 minutes and one mile of each other. The accidents have caused untold personal tradgedy for many families. Please be careful while boating. See Video

In 2009, the Coast Guard counted 4,730 accidents nationally that involved 736 deaths, 3,358 injuries and approximately $36 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. Three-fourths (75%) of all fatal boating accidents in 2009 resulted from drowning. EIGHTY-FOUR PERCENT WERE NOT WEARING LIFE JACKETS! Seven out of ten who drowned were in open motorboats less than 21 feet in length.

Operator inattention, operator inexperience, excessive speed, improper lookout and alcohol rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents. Alcohol use is typically the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents.

CLICK - estimating impairment for boating Boating under the Influence (BUI) is both dangerous and illegal.According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the use of alcohol is involved in about a 17% of all recreational boating fatalities. If marine law enforcement finds that a boat operator is BUI, the vessel's voyage will be terminated, the boat may be impounded and the operator may be arrested. Penalties may include fines, imprisonment, impoundment of the boat, loss of boating privileges, even loss of driving privileges.

Here are the TOP 5 Reasons for Boating Citations from S.C. Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Officers on Lake Murray:

  1. Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) inadequate
  2. Negligent Operation
  3. Boating Under the Influence
  4. Violation of "No Wake" zones - This is a REAL Problem at the lake!
  5. Lapsed Boat Registration

Boating Safety - S.C. Department of Natural Resources

Boating Regulations - S.C. Department of Natural Resources

Boater Education - S.C. Department of Natural Resources

Wear Life Jackets at Lake Murray More Boating Safety Resources

National Safe Boating Council

Wear Your Life Jacket - Safe Boating Campaign

Boating Safety Resource Center - U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division

Recreational Boating Statistics - 2010

USCG Boating Safety YouTube Channel

Operation Dry Water

Sea Tow Foundation - Safety Resources

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