(Toronto, Ontario) Ontario waterways have experienced tragedy with a number of boating accidents already recorded this season.  The Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) is urging Ontarians to practice safety first while boating this summer.

Here are some tips to ensure safe boating:

  •  If you are planning on operating a motor boat in Canada, you are required to have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card issued to you. This license ensures you understand all of the rules of the water and how to properly operate a vessel.
  • It is important that you understand all of the laws and principles of the waters you plan to go boating on. The driver of the boat must also have an understanding of boating safety knowledge required for safe recreational boating. Make sure before you board a boat this summer that the driver has his pleasure craft operator card.
  • Make sure your boat insurance policy is up to date each summer before you take it out on the water. Talk to your broker to make sure you understand all of the risks of owning and operating your boat and what type of protection liability is in place.
  • Consider the visibility, wind, water temperature, water traffic and possible hazards BEFORE you take off for a trip on the water. Proper preparation in advance is key to a safe ride.
  • Always operate your boat at a safe speed.

“Making sure your boat is operating at the right speed can truly be the difference between life and death,” said Randy Carroll, IBAO CEO. “When you are in complete control of the boat, free from distraction, you are always prepared to stop suddenly or turn to avoid a crash.”

IBAO also reminds Ontarians to never drive a boat while impaired. “When you drink and drive on the water, the same serious, life threatening possibilities exist that do on the road. Under no condition should a driver ever operate a boat if they have been drinking alcohol. If you are the driver, you are responsible for the safety of the passengers and others on the water.”

The laws for operating a motor vehicle are the same on the water. According to Transport Canada, if you are caught driving your boat while impaired ‘convictions for a first offence can result in penalties no less than $600, prohibition from operating a vessel could be up to three years and imprisonment could be for life.’

IBAO wishes all Ontarians an enjoyable and safe boating season.