On June 25, an unfortunate boating accident on Lake Norman caused serious injuries to a 25-year-old swimmer, which resulted in the amputation of her arm. The cause of the accident was a boat renter who simply had no experience driving a boat. According to officers, the driver was trying to tie up with another boat and did not see the girl swimming in the water. The driver was charged with negligent operation of a motorboat, endangering life and limb and operation of a motorboat with insufficient life jackets.
It was this incident almost three months ago that has spurned a now heated debate over whether or not to implement new tighter restrictions on boat renters. Since this accident, The Lake Norman Marine Commission has begun a serious investigation into current regulations and the safety of those on the lake. Currently, there is no guarantee that businesses are going over sufficient safety rules with boat renters. Some businesses may watch a short video, some simply talk about safety rules, and others just hand over the keys to anyone who wants to pay to rent a boat. The commission points out that at least half of all other states in the country make boaters pass nationally approved boater-education courses before renting a boat.
Some of the boat rental companies in the Lake Norman area think that requiring these nationally approved boater-education courses before renting a boat would be bad for business. They agree that the events of June 25th are tragic, but they don’t believe these events should be held against all rental companies. They also question the fairness of the potential new rule since not everyone traveling on the water would be required to pass the courses.
While everyone understands trying not to drive business away in this economy, a person’s safety should still come first. If you choose not to educate customers about the serious dangers of boating and how to properly operate the boat, then you are putting them, and all others out on the lake that day, at risk for serious injury or even death. It is important for these companies to help create a safe environment at the lake and to protect their own customers so they won’t be held accountable when another catastrophic injury occurs.