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“Flying orange flags is a simple way to warn other boaters that you’re towing a water skier or inner tuber. Creating greater awareness could help save lives.” - State Senator Julie Morrison

water-safety-040114RSPRINGFIELD – After a series of hearings last year, State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) found a water-safety plan everyone can agree on: requiring boats that are towing water-skiers, tubers and other people to fly orange flags.

Several other states, including Illinois’ neighboring state of Missouri, already have similar laws.

“Flying orange flags is a simple way to warn other boaters that you’re towing a water skier or inner tuber,” Morrison said. “Creating greater awareness could help save lives.”

Orange safety flags are widely available for sale for $10 or less.

Another of Morrison’s proposals, a plan to require boat operators to hold safety certificates also passed the committee. The plan exempts renters, commercial fisherman and anyone born before 1990. It only applies to boats with more-than-10 horsepower motors.

Morrison’s legislation passed the Senate Special Committee on Watercraft Safety and now will be considered by the full Senate.

A related piece of legislation passed the Senate Criminal Law Committee earlier in the week. Senate Bill 3434, another of Morrison’s initiatives, allows law enforcement officials to seize boats used in the commission of serious crimes. These crimes include operating a watercraft after your right to do so has been suspended, operating a watercraft under the influence for the third time, and operating a watercraft under the influence and causing an accident that results in death.

A similar law is already in place for cars and other motor vehicles used in the commission of crimes.

“Drivers who put others in jeopardy lose their cars. Boaters who do the same thing should lose their boats,” Morrison said. “Our state has great lakes and waterways. We need to keep them safe.”

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