Legal Commentary. The speed of a boat must be controlled near swimming areas, docks, floating boat houses, moored boats, or fishing areas. If you don’t control speed in these areas, you could cause danger, injury, damage to another boat or other people. These injuries could range from broken bones to severe brain injury. Controlling speed also means that you should not operate a boat faster than is safe given the conditions. For example, if there is heavy boat traffic or dangerous weather, you should proceed slower than normal. Another element to control, in order to make sure everyone on the vessel is safe, is to make sure the boat only has as many people on board as is suggested by the capacity plate. Additionally, none of these people should ever be allowed to sit on the bow or gunwale.
See the full text of the statute below:Speed and Load Restrictions; Riding Restrictions (O.C.G.A. § 52-7-17)
(a) The speed of each vessel shall at all times be regulated so as to avoid danger or injury or damage or unnecessary inconvenience, directly or by the effect of the wash or wave raised by the vessel, while in the vicinity of swimming areas, docks, floating boat houses, moored boats, or boats engaged in fishing activities.
(b) No vessel shall be loaded beyond the recommended capacity.
(c) No person operating any vessel shall allow any person or persons to ride the bow or gunwale of any vessel nor shall any person or persons ride on the bow or gunwale of any vessel unless the vessel is equipped with a railing or some other retaining device on the bow or gunwale, so located that any person or persons might hold to such railing or other retaining device to avoid falling or being thrown overboard. For the purposes of this Code section, eyes or cleats shall not be considered retaining devices.
(d) No vessel shall be operated at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions, and such vessel’s operator shall have regard for the actual and potential hazards then existing.
HISTORY: Ga. L. 1968, p. 487, § 10; Ga. L. 1973, p. 1427, § 15; Ga. L. 1998, p. 679, § 5.