Troopers discuss boat safety on Lake Guntersville ahead of Memorial Day weekend


GUNTERSVILLE, Ala.- The unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day, is almost here. 

In preparation for memorial day, the Alabama Department of Public Safety Marine Division took News 19’s Northeast Alabama Bureau Chief Tiffany Lester out on the water, to talk about what they will be keeping an eye out for.

Troopers tested the lights and sirens, which is a sound no one wants to hear especially when having a good time on the lake.

But that is what some boaters may experience if they aren’t being safe and courteous this Memorial Day weekend.

“We get a lot more people from the state, we get a lot of people from out of the state,” said Cpl. Robert Ping.

“I’m expecting to see a lot of wake zone violations. I anticipate some BUI activity as well, also some safety vest violations,” added Sr. Trooper Jake Mayo.

The key according to the Troopers is making sure you have everything you need before getting on the boat, including a working fire extinguisher, throw cushion, a horn of some kind and most importantly flotation devices.

“If you’re under eight years old, they have to have that on when they’re on the boat. Over eight, there has to be one for every single person on the vessel,” explained Ping.

Life vests must be U.S. Coast Guard approved and either fully buckled and/or zipped or within easy access for the adults.

Water skiers or tubers must also be wearing them appropriately.

Ping and Mayo tell News 19 there was a spike in boat purchases, so they are concerned about the amount of inexperienced boaters on the water.

“If you just recently got your license, this isn’t the best weekend to be out there. I would rather see you put a more experienced driver behind the wheel,” said Ping.

There were 15 less fatalities on Alabama waterways last year compared to 2019 despite the increased traffic, according to Ping.

He says it has been a couple of years since there’s been a serious boating accident at Lake Guntersville.

Officers say they hope just their presence is enough to keep everyone enjoying the holiday weekend on the lake safe.

“Us just being out here, people will see it and it’ll register in their minds, ‘Hey, I need to watch what I’m doing,’ and so their behavior will change when they see our boats in the water just like they would on the highway,” explained Mayo.

The Marine Division will have officers at City Harbor May 28 from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. doing courtesy boat safety inspections to make sure boaters have all of the necessary safety equipment and that it is all in working order.

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