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Seat belts, life vests should be worn this weekend

Staff Report • May 29, 2012 at 8:28 AM

This is Memorial Day weekend, which is considered the unofficial start of summer. As such, many Tennesseans will be hitting the highways for vacation travel, or heading to the lakes for recreation and relaxation. Before you do, please remember to buckle up when you get into a car and put on a life vest when you are in a boat.

Putting on your seat belt is something drivers and passengers should do whenever they are in a moving vehicle. We remind motorists who routinely violate the state’s seat belt and other highway laws that failing to obey the rules of the road could earn you a ticket.

Federal highway safety officials also say men account for more than half of Americans killed each year. Statistics show young men driving or riding in trucks are the least likely to wear safety belts regularly, which is extremely dangerous since pickups are twice as likely to roll over in a crash.

Tennessee has embarked on an aggressive public awareness campaign to reverse those numbers. The “Click It or Ticket” campaign involves checkpoints, patrols and public service announcements to help enforce seat belt laws. Clearly, drivers and passengers in pickup trucks should pay particularly close attention to these admonishments.

Some other useful advice this Memorial Day weekend (and every weekend for that matter) is not to forget safety when you are on the lakes. Officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency advises you take time to review all state licensing and safety regulations before getting into a boat.

To operate a boat in Tennessee, state law requires anyone born after Jan. 1, 1989, to have a TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate as proof of successful completion of the TWRA Boating Safety exam. No other certificate is accepted as meeting the requirements of the law. In addition, people younger than 12 may not operate a powered boat in Tennessee unless they are accompanied by an adult.

It’s also against the law to operate boats while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Those convicted of operating a boat under the influence will face fines of up to $2,500 on the first offense, $2,500 on the second offense and $5,000 for the third offense.

Finally, remember if you are operating a vessel on the water or just along for the ride, state law requires that you wear an approved flotation device while you are on board. So to recap: Wear your seat belts and life vests this weekend.

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