ksdaoski

Wisconsin New Spotter Law Needing Support

153 posts in this topic

Hello!

Looking to spread the word to fellow Wisconsinites!

Currently the state of WI requires a spotter.  Neighboring states, such as Minnesota, only require a mirror.   The incidents rates for boating accidents are actually lower in MN, indicating the use of a mirror vs a spotter, has not led to increased accidents or deaths.

A new bill in WI would match the MN law, requiring only a mirror:

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/related/proposals/sb69

"This bill authorizes the operation of a motorboat towing a person on water skis, 
aquaplane, or similar device, without having a second person in the boat to observe 
the person being towed, if the motorboat is equipped with a mirror that provides the 
operator with a wide field of vision to the rear. "

 

For me, this would result in increased opportunities to be on the water, such as a early weekday mornings or early evenings, and I'm very much in favor of that!

 

If you're from WI, and support this bill, be sure to let your state reps know!  

Here's a link where you can easily look up who your reps are and their contact information, based on where you live: 

http://maps.legis.wisconsin.gov/

 

Thanks!

 

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I wish Michigan would look at this also. We don't let the spotter requirements stop us. We do only run with very lite boat traffic early morning and evenings. And yes we have contributed to the state funding for doing so. I don't know about it in heavy boat traffic but then some people pull kids at times I would not put my kids in the water. 

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Earlier I started a reply to this and stopped.  It would be great for me and my crews and other responsible boaters.  Then again I have to think of all of the other yahoos on the lake.

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Without a doubt, with or without a spotter, you need to be responsible on the water.  I'm reviewing my mirror pretty regularly while driving and pulling, just like I would while driving a car, checking my cars and remaining aware of my surroundings.  

While not official here's a list of states that currently do not require a spotter, and they seem to get along fine:

Florida

Texas

Minnesota

Louisiana

Missouri

Tennessee

South Carolina

Arkansas

Virginia 

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3 hours ago, ksdaoski said:

Hello!

Looking to spread the word to fellow Wisconsinites!

Currently the state of WI requires a spotter.  Neighboring states, such as Minnesota, only require a mirror.   The incidents rates for boating accidents are actually lower in MN, indicating the use of a mirror vs a spotter, has not led to increased accidents or deaths.

A new bill in WI would match the MN law, requiring only a mirror:

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/related/proposals/sb69

"This bill authorizes the operation of a motorboat towing a person on water skis, 
aquaplane, or similar device, without having a second person in the boat to observe 
the person being towed, if the motorboat is equipped with a mirror that provides the 
operator with a wide field of vision to the rear. "

 

For me, this would result in increased opportunities to be on the water, such as a early weekday mornings or early evenings, and I'm very much in favor of that!

 

If you're from WI, and support this bill, be sure to let your state reps know!  

Here's a link where you can easily look up who your reps are and their contact information, based on where you live: 

http://maps.legis.wisconsin.gov/

 

Thanks!

 

Comparing boating accidents between states does not indicate that pulling with a mirror is safer or as safe as pulling with a spotter.

Only by comparing accidents involving towing with a spotter to accidents involving boaters using a mirror can you make that comparison.

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Tried doing a little research on that too....information isn't great/easy to digest.  I pulled the following 1 year ago:

Minnesota had roughly half the number of deaths per 100,000 boaters than Wisconsin does. http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/boatwater/statistics.html

http://dnr.wi.gov/files/pdf/pubs/le/leb314_2012.pdf

Looking closer at the 2014 information out of MN, none of the deaths were related to pulling a skier (wakeboarding, etc), rather all were accidents.   Many of which involved not having a life jacket.

There were 7 waterskiing accidents, but no details provided.  However, there were no reported collisions between people in the water and boats.  Which supports, there were no accidents occurring because of ill-attentive drivers, and skiers who had fallen.   

http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/education_safety/safety/boatwater/accident_summary14.pdf

 

The most recent data I found out of WI, showed 23 waterskiing based accidents.  Despite the fact a spotter is required. 

http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/education_safety/safety/boatwater/accident_summary14.pdf

 

 

 

edit...  http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/boat/fatalitySummary/boatCurrent.html

21 boating deaths in WI in 2016.  0 associated with water skiing.

6 were kayaks or canoes.  Should those be banned?

 

 

 

Edited by ksdaoski
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Sent an email to reps. I hope it makes it through this year!

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Referencing the 2014 MN data: 

There were 14 boating deaths; 13 of 14 had no life jacket.

There were 0 deaths related to water skiing, tubing, etc.  

Despite no spotters required.  

There were a reported 7 non-fatal accidents related to water skiing; does not list of spotter was used or not used.

There were 29 other non-fatal accidents, including Capsizing, Collision with another boat, falling overboard, etc.

 

 

Nothing explicitly shows spotter/no spotter

However, you can look at a multiple years worth of data, and make a connection that not having a spotter, does not seem to have resulted in a large case of water skiing accidents.   

Edited by ksdaoski

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that would be nice.  Not that we run with a spotter on my parents lake anyways but it would be nice for it to be legal when we are in WI

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Just my opinion, but 'spotter' terminology is probably not accurate in terms of a true need for the extra person in a boat pulling a skier/rider.  A driver paying attention will know when the person holding the rope drops or falls regardless of feedback from a spotter (with the exception of tubing?), in reality my dog tends to provide the driver better feedback than a human especially if there is more than one observer.  The real need for the extra person is if someone does get hurt and requires assistance being pulled from the water back on to the boat.  Spotter laws provide no criteria for someone that is actually capable of performing that task.

If one could drill down in the data on boating accidents, I would expect the actual severe injury or death statistic for riders/skiers would be incredibly small.  What seems to provide the statistics are boat to boat (jetski, etc.) collisions, vessel to person impacts, or alcohol induced accidents which include drowning due to no floatation device being used.  The rope or handle entanglement accidents that cause injury would not be stopped with a spotter onboard.

What I see most of, and is particularly dangerous, is the backwards looking captain (boat driver) pretty much not paying attention to what is ahead.  Any time I have witnessed that, there was at least one if not more than one spotter riding shotgun, which then prompts the question 'what good is the spotter law doing'?

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While I'm all for fewer nanny laws, I still wouldn't go skiing without another person in the boat for the reasons @Woodski mentioned.

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Kind of a hypothetical question, but would you need a spotter (or life jacket) surfing since you're not attached to the boat?

 

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1 hour ago, Woodski said:

Just my opinion, but 'spotter' terminology is probably not accurate in terms of a true need for the extra person in a boat pulling a skier/rider.  A driver paying attention will know when the person holding the rope drops or falls regardless of feedback from a spotter (with the exception of tubing?), in reality my dog tends to provide the driver better feedback than a human especially if there is more than one observer.  The real need for the extra person is if someone does get hurt and requires assistance being pulled from the water back on to the boat.  Spotter laws provide no criteria for someone that is actually capable of performing that task.

If one could drill down in the data on boating accidents, I would expect the actual severe injury or death statistic for riders/skiers would be incredibly small.  What seems to provide the statistics are boat to boat (jetski, etc.) collisions, vessel to person impacts, or alcohol induced accidents which include drowning due to no floatation device being used.  The rope or handle entanglement accidents that cause injury would not be stopped with a spotter onboard.

What I see most of, and is particularly dangerous, is the backwards looking captain (boat driver) pretty much not paying attention to what is ahead.  Any time I have witnessed that, there was at least one if not more than one spotter riding shotgun, which then prompts the question 'what good is the spotter law doing'?

I have said this before but I have had two close calls and both were with spotters. Both times adult spotters. Both times the spotters are to busy shooting the bull to be doing the job. We chose our ski time to low to very low boat traffic times. So if I am running without a spotter and have a injury significant that someone can not get back onboard  I will pull my center plug long enough to submerge the platform.  float an individual onto the swim deck and work from that. I did this with a young gal skiing with a neighbor. She took a brutal over the front and was very shaken up. Complaining of bad back pain. I stopped the neighbor from just lifting her into his boat. Flooded my boat a little floated her onto the swim platform and moved her to one of my ski buds home witch was a very short float to his beach. She was OK after some time and a trip to the hospital. One of my ski buds had a bad broken leg. We were on my partners boat. We got him onboard but could not get his ski off and no tools in the boat. We went to the same home got tools and pulled the binding off the ski and got him to the hospital. Just need to think and react without hast. I keep tools and a small first aid  kit in my boat.

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I just sent the email a few hours ago and have received this response already.

"Thanks for your email James. I've just started to look into this and tend to agree with you. Minnesota doesn't require a spotter, has just as many water sports enthusiasts and has a lower accident rate. I likely will support this bill."

Rep. Jagler 

 

Send in your emails!

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6 hours ago, ksdaoski said:

Minnesota had roughly half the number of deaths per 100,000 boaters than Wisconsin does. 

 

 

You should look up the volume of beer sales in WI vs MN  :Tease3:  Just sayin.......

 

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2012/10/11/beer-consumption-top-states/1627621/

Old study.......I know

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I'm conflicted on this, and I live in Wi.

on the one hand...not relying on anyone else puts a heightened responsibility on the driver. If I know I'm the only one paying attention, which is how I ALWAYS drive, then spotter/no spotter makes no difference. I'd love to not have to chase a third when the water is smooth and I've got limited time.

on the other hand...there are a lot of Wallys out there driving boats. Eliminating the spotter just increases the risk because there is one less half paying attention person in the boat. Plus in WI there is the alcohol thing. I've lived in 5 different states and Wi is the most alcohol infused by far than any other I've lived in.

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I would be fine with no spotter required before noon or some other similar condition. Not sure I'm comfortable with tubers with no spotter.

Living in MN but cabin in WI, learned about WI law one day years ago when buddy and I were getting ready for some glass slalom one weekday morning. DNR guy was watching us get ready. Figured he was into fishing enforcement. Well we did one pull and he comes over and gives us a ticket. Jerk. Boat had MN registration. He could have come over and informed us of the law - but no. Jerk.  No love for WI DNR since.

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9 hours ago, minnmarker said:

I would be fine with no spotter required before noon or some other similar condition. Not sure I'm comfortable with tubers with no spotter.

Living in MN but cabin in WI, learned about WI law one day years ago when buddy and I were getting ready for some glass slalom one weekday morning. DNR guy was watching us get ready. Figured he was into fishing enforcement. Well we did one pull and he comes over and gives us a ticket. Jerk. Boat had MN registration. He could have come over and informed us of the law - but no. Jerk.  No love for WI DNR since.

That does sound like crappy thing to do on his part. What law were you in violation of?

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No spotter.

Bring from MN we naively thought skiing with only one in the boat was OK. He could have come over and told us. Safety first, serving the public and all that...

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14 hours ago, Sixer said:

You should look up the volume of beer sales in WI vs MN  :Tease3:  Just sayin.......

 

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2012/10/11/beer-consumption-top-states/1627621/

Old study.......I know

could also be that it seems like everyone in mn has some sort of boat and 50% don't get used more than 3 holiday weekends in an average year.

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36 minutes ago, minnmarker said:

No spotter.

Bring from MN we naively thought skiing with only one in the boat was OK. He could have come over and told us. Safety first, serving the public and all that...

I just found out this year that Minnetonka has a special rule requiring a spotter.  Been skiing there with just my wife for almost 20 years, few times in full view of a sheriff boat.

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Thanks for the update @ksdaoski. Spreading it to FB friends to get more people helping.

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I don't mind the spotter law for the safety reasons noted above. 

A spotter helps balance the boat. It can be difficult driving a boat straight thru the course when trying to watch the skier in the mirror.

How about:

>300 posts on tmc = no spotter required

 

Edited by Chia

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Out of curiosity, why would you ever be watching a course skier in the mirror except after you exit?  Pretty easy to feel when your skier goes down.

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Just an FYI.  Wisconsin went through this process last year as well.  The 2016 version of this bill was one open vote away from going to the governor for his approval.  Last year's version was caught up in an assembly committee for a large portion of the year which forced the final vote to be a last minute decision when items that move the needle a bit more are also up for discussion with the clock running out on the legislative year.

As others have mentioned, please continue to contact you local reps. I attended a listening session for my assembly-person, discussed the bill with him and now he is a cosponsor.  The staff of the original author, Senator Terry Moulton, also indicated there may be a public comment period.  Last year nobody showed up.  This made it much easier for the bill to linger in committee.   So, contact the reps for the committees along the bill's progression.  Currently the bill is in the sporting, mining and forestry committee.  The chair, Senator Tiffany, of that committee is from Hazelhurst, so lake issues should register a bit more for him than the average Senator.      

As for the safety discussion.  This is the information used by Senator Moulton to advertise the bill for cosponsors:

Current Wisconsin law requires that in addition to the driver, an observer or “spotter” be onboard to observe a water skier’s progress. This bill is modeled after a 56-year-old Minnesota law and would exempt motorboats that have a wide-view rear-facing mirror from the requirement to have an on-board observer while towing a water skier.

Since 1960, residents and visitors in Minnesota, the birthplace of waterskiing, have been able to waterski without an observer when their ski boat is equipped with a wide-view rear-facing mirror. In 2015, Minnesota had 185,000 more registered motorboats than Wisconsin, but only had 11 skier-related incidents, four fewer than Wisconsin. Over the past 6 years, Minnesota has had 28% fewer skier-involved incidents per 100,000 registered boats.

According to the Department of Tourism, of all those who traveled to Wisconsin in 2015 for vacation (not visiting family, friends, or on business), 76% had two or fewer adults in their party. Under current law, these parties would not be able to waterski during their visit to Wisconsin without finding a third person. This bill allows for broader participation in recreational watersports on our lakes - especially by residents and tourists who enjoy our lakes with just one other person. 

Counties, cities, towns, villages, public inland lake protection and rehabilitation districts, and town sanitary districts are already able to enact local boating regulations in the interest of public health, safety or welfare.  As such, this bill effectively removes the statewide mandate and gives decision-making power on this issue back to local governments. Any local government that wishes to require a spotter while water skiing would still be able to enact such an ordinance.

In my opinion, this is more being responsible for my own safety.  I know when I can ride without a spotter and when I need a third.  I'm not worried about my crew, and we go without a spotter regularly.  The argument of course is what about the others on the lake.  Do I trust them?  And when I look at the fact that Wisconsin has zero requirements for pfds while being towed or sitting in a boat, other than that they be accessible, and the fact that I never see people riding without them; I feel that the boating public has shown they can make appropriate safety choices in this regard.

That said, I also support requirements for pfds and increases in LEOs on the lakes to look for and protect against drinking while boating.  

 

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