Arizona considers new safety rules for boaters in 2017

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. - Arizona regulators are considering new boating rules that are designed to boost safety and better oversee rental operations.

The rules being proposed by the Arizona Game and Fish Department include a ban on boaters towing people from swim platforms at the rear of their craft and a requirement that wake surfers wear life vests.

The Today's News-Herald in Lake Havasu City reports the department is also proposing checkpoints on lakes and rivers to look for impaired or unsafe drivers. The checkpoints also would let officials gather demographic, statistical and compliance information.

New restrictions would require "watersports observers" who watch for hazards while people are water skiing to be at least 12 years old. There's currently no age requirement.

Another proposal in the department's draft rules would require watercraft rental companies to register as vehicle for hire companies and place identifying placards on their boats and personal watercraft.

The Game and Fish Department would authorize the use of third-party providers to handle registration renewals, simple watercraft transfers and decals. The rules would allow the Department to offer duplicate watercraft registrations and decals online, and would allow watercraft owners to renew registrations up to six months early.

The rules are proposed to take effect in the fall.

The Lake Havasu Marine Association is one such third-party entity, and according to Marine Association President Jim Salscheider, it has been an amicable partnership.

"We're jointly working to promote boating and commerce on the lake," Salscheider said. "We have a great number of projects we've been working on for years with them. It's been a very productive partnership, and they're a delight to work with. They really want to understand boaters' wants and experiences."

The Game and Fish Department submitted revisions to state policies on boating and watersports in December. The department finished a five-year review in late 2015 and it was approved in early 2016.

State Sen. Sonny Borrelli, of Havasu, said he'll reach out to the department to see if the rules make sense.

"One size doesn't always fit all," Borrelli said. "What works in Phoenix doesn't always work here, and what works here doesn't always work in Phoenix."
 

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