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5.14 Bullhead City - Boating safety priority on Colorado River

The Bullhead City Police Department’s Waterways Unit will begin patrolling the Colorado River this Memorial Day weekend and would like to remind residents and visitors to be safe around water this summer.

“The Colorado River is a very busy and narrow waterway, so it’s important to know the rules and be a good operator,” said Officer Joel Baughman. “The majority of people don’t realize the dangers on the water until it’s too late. Either they get injured, they see somebody else get injured, or they get arrested for doing something wrong.”

Most of the boating laws result in criminal citations, rather than civil citations. A person found guilty of operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol or drugs could receive a fine up to $2,500 and mandatory jail time.

Operators should also be familiar with the proximity law, which states personal watercrafts must remain 60 feet apart from another vessel, when maneuvering above a wake-less speed.

“The most dangerous act I see on the water is PWCs (personal watercrafts) playing and splashing each other,” said Officer Baughman. “What they don’t realize is how easy it is to collide.”

According to Officer Baughman, accidents on the water are far more life-threatening than on the roadway.

“Automobiles have safety features, whereas boats and PWCs do not. There is no head or leg protection and the injuries are usually serious,” he added. “Plus, if the victim is left unconscious in a collision, there is a chance they could drown, even with a life vest on.”

Another common cause of accidents occurs when people drive on the wrong side of the river. The order of traffic on the river is the same as the traffic pattern on the roadway.

Boats are required to carry several safety devices, including a personal flotation device for each person onboard and children 13 years of age or under must wear a life jacket. Everyone on a PWC must wear a secured personal flotation device.

“I hope everyone enjoys all of Bullhead City’s recreational opportunities, including the Colorado River, this summer.” said Police Chief Rodney Head. “Please be prepared for the upcoming busy boating season.”

Bullhead City Police Boating Officers will be patrolling the waterways starting Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. For more information on boat safety, please contact the Bullhead City Police Department’s COPPS (Community Oriented Policing Problem Solving) Unit at (928) 763-1110. To learn more about the laws in Arizona, boating safety pamphlets are available at the COPPS office, located at the First Aid Station in Rotary Park, 2315 Balboa Drive.

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