Labor Day Weekend Safety
SALT LAKE CITY — Labor Day weekend, like many holiday weekends, offer Utahn’s and out-of-state visitors alike an extended opportunity to experience the great outdoors at Utah’s state parks and recreation areas.
The Utah Division of Parks and Recreation would like to encourage visitors to continue practicing #ResponsibleRecreation and exercise safety precautions to ensure an enjoyable time for themselves, their families, and fellow recreators.
Along with the tips listed below, we would like to remind our visitors to enjoy their alcohol responsibly. Operating an off-highway vehicle (OHV) or boat under the influence of alcohol is no different than operating a car under the influence of alcohol. Don’t drink and drive.
Utah has experienced 12 boating-related fatalities this year. One crucial step in staying safe on the water is to always wear your life jacket.
Nationally, 80% of people who drowned in boating accidents would have survived had they been wearing a life jacket. You can learn more about life jacket safety, sizing, and more here.
Another key of safe and respectful boating is always following speed and proximity laws. A wakeless or idle speed is required when operating a boat in a designated slow, wakeless speed area.
It is also required within 150 feet of another boat, a person in the water, a water skier (except those you are towing), shore anglers, launch ramps, docks, or other designated swimming areas.
The Water Sports Industry Association has taken these rules a step further and is working to educate the public about responsible boating. They are challenging boaters to “Wake Responsibly” by minimizing repetitive passes, keeping music at reasonable levels, and increasing the wakeless proximity to 200 feet.
Following two simple steps that take less than 8 seconds, you increase your chances of surviving a serious OHV-related injury. Always take the time to put on and fasten your helmet whenever before your head out on your ride. If you’re in a UTV, we also recommend buckling your seatbelt.
Helmets are required for riders and passengers under the age of 18, but we advise that everyone wear one.
Always be aware of your surroundings and ride within your ability. Be alert to oncoming traffic, especially on blind curves, in dips, or the crests of a hill. Ride on the right-hand side of the trail and in single file.
When properly worn, helmets won’t reduce vision or hearing, and may even help to cut out windblast. You can learn more about Utah’s OHV laws and rules here.
Education is a key component in spreading awareness of Utah’s laws and rules. Utah has education requirements for some individuals when it comes to operating both boats and OHVs on public land.
- The state of Utah requires youth between the ages of 12-17 to successfully complete a Youth Personal Watercraft Education Course before operating. Examples of personal watercraft include jet skis, wave runners, and sea-doos.
- Adults wanting to increase their knowledge also have access to approved adult boating education and safety courses. These courses also meet the reciprocity requirements for states that require mandatory boater education.
- Boaters who are not residents of Utah are required to take the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Aquatic Invasive Species Education Course as part of their “Mussel-Aware Boater Program.” The course is voluntary for Utah residents.
- Utah law requires youth, ages 8 to 15 (or until they get their state-issued driver license), to complete a Utah Division of Parks and Recreation OHV or snowmobile education course before operating on public lands, roads, or trails. It is illegal for any child under the age of 8 to operate an OHV or snowmobile on any public land.
- The online youth education course fee is $30 per student and must be passed only once. The OHV certification covers ATVs, off-highway motorcycles (OHMs), and side-by-side ATVs (type II ATVs or UTVs) and the snowmobile certification covers only snowmobiles.