The Lake Lanier Legislative Caucus met again on Saturday, December 15, 2012. Actually, they met twice: once in Gainesville and also in Cumming, later in the day.
At the meeting in Gainesville I was surprised more people weren’t there to voice their opinions. Politicians are held in contempt by so many citizens, it seems. We don’t trust them and it’s commonly thought they wouldn’t listen to us even if we had a chance to speak our minds.
That’s a bad rap, in my humble opinion.
The public was sincerely invited to give input into how the State Legislature could create or modify laws to make Lake Lanier safer. Few accepted the offer.
The session began wisely. Senator Unterman asked for a moment of silence, in honor of the memory of the children wickedly slain the day before in Connecticut. Again, it was a sincere and solemn moment, not the kind of thing we attribute to “politicians.”
Afterward, several members of the community spoke on behalf of boater safety.
There was a discussion about the legal limits for drinking and operating a boat or personal watercraft. Some felt the limits should be the same for drivers of boats and those who drive cars and other vehicles on our highways. Interestingly, a couple of people said the current limits are sufficient because the real problems are not with drivers who have three beers or four beers, it’s the drunks behind the wheel who are far beyond the current limit.
We heard from a local volunteer who spoke of the need to provide loaner flotation devices to boaters. A terrific idea, frankly.
There was dialogue about enforcing speed limits on Lake Lanier, especially at night when the dangers are greater — especially to slower boats or fisherman out at night. That led to questions about how many boating accidents were caused by excessive speed or occurred at night.
In response, Senator Gooch asked the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) if they could provide data for the Caucus.
Today, the DNR’s response from Colonel Henderson was made public by Wildlife Resources Division Assistant Chief of Law Enforcement Lt. Colonel Jeff Weaver.
Here is their response:
The following information was retrieved from the U.S. Coast Guard Boating Accident Reporting Database showing the boating incidents from 2006 – 2012 where speed was listed as the contributing factor to the incident.
Statewide (other than Lake Lanier):
- Daytime – 28
- Night- time – 1
- TOTAL: 29
- Daytime – 4
- Night- time – 2
- TOTAL: 6
Since 2006, at total of 979 boating incidents were reported statewide. Of those, 35 — or 4% – were attributed to excessive speed.
When future meetings are announced, we’ll let you know where and when they’ll be held.
We are thankful for everyone’s involvement in the process to make Lanier Lake more safe.