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No Spotter Ticket


theloungelife

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I was out riding early this morning and fishermen called us in for riding without a spotter.  I do this on occasion as it isn't always easy to get a 3rd on weekday mornings.  We always give other boats 150'+ and never power turn etc.  Oh well.  Just curious if others have experience with these.  I won't know how much the fine is for 5 days.  On the ticket it is listed as a citation/infraction.  Do these ever lead to increased insurance rates or any other issues.  Or is it just pay the fine and you're done?

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I think it is very unfortunate that it seems necessary to make spotter and life jacket laws just because a few people are willing to put their crew in jeopardy.  What a bummer.

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Laws are there to protect the idiots and us from them.  I've never been sited, but warned for the same "offense" and I politely explained that boating laws differ from state to state and apologized for not understanding why a mirror was not sufficient.  Hopefully it's not too expensive and just look at it as a slightly inflated cost of entertainment for the season. 

My grandfather got a $50 ticket for chumming when I was a kid.  He said it was worth every penny to watch his young grandchildren catch fish and the game warden laughed as he wrote the ticket.  It is what it is.

Just be safe out there and enjoy.  Dont sweat the little stuff.....JMHO.

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9 hours ago, csleaver said:

I think it is very unfortunate that it seems necessary to make spotter and life jacket laws just because a few people are willing to put their crew in jeopardy.  What a bummer.

Who is putting their crew in jeopardy?  Exactly what kind of jeopardy are they in?

I really don't care to look up the statistics, but I would bet that the states with overly strict laws are not any safer than the states that let you be an adult about the situation.

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We went through this a few years ago in WI. We successfully lobbied and got the spotter law overturned by using facts. @onwi had some interesting statistics about this but the long and short of it was that states that require a spotter had an appreciably higher accident rate.

Spotters distract drivers more than anything, especially since most of the time they're kids. 

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Texas law states that if towing, you must have a mirror measuring 4" by 4" minimum OR an observer.  It was my understanding that the mirror size requirement was usually the cause of having to have a spotter on board.  But that was back in the day when tow boats didnt have the larger wide angle mirrors.  

 

Edited by Texan32
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For me, having a spotter not only helps the driver know when the skier is down, and allows the driver to watch for hazards and other boaters in crowded situations, but the spotter can also provide help getting a skier on board of they are injured.

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47 minutes ago, UWSkier said:

We went through this a few years ago in WI. We successfully lobbied and got the spotter law overturned by using facts. @onwi had some interesting statistics about this but the long and short of it was that states that require a spotter had an appreciably higher accident rate.

Spotters distract drivers more than anything, especially since most of the time they're kids. 

This is interesting to hear about.  What kind of process did you use to get this lobbying kicked off?  When googling around I noticed quite a few other states allow the mirror to count for the spotter.

Generally I'm all for having a spotter if one is available.  I have one friend who's schedule is very similar to mine where we can meet at the lake at 7am and go into work late.  Hard to find thirds though for those sessions.  On this particular day we were the only towboat on the entire lake.

Thanks for all the replies!

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As @UWSkiersaid, I compiled data from the 5 most recent available years on boating accidents.  Its not included in their annual reports, but the US coast guard does compile state by state accident data. Direct from my testimony on the issue:

The US Coast Guard reports, on an annual basis, accident and registration data for all 50 states.  This includes the number of vessels involved in towed water sports at the time of an accident.  For ease, I will refer to these as towed accidents.  I have compiled the number of registered vessels, the number of total accidents and the number of towed accidents for 2011 to 2015 for each of the 50 states.  This is the past 5 years for which data was available.

Reviewing these statistics has proven to me, that requiring a spotter for towed water sports does not decrease the rate of towed accidents.  Spotters do not make towed sports safer for riders or other users of the water.  I have far too much data to present it all.  But I have included a variety of statistics below:

-          There are 17 states that allow users to utilize a mirror for spotting.  Over the 5 year period, on average, there were 3.8 towed accidents per 100,000 registered boats.  In the states requiring a spotter this number increased to 6.3 towed accidents per 100,000 registered boats.      

-          Over the 5 year period towed accidents accounted for 9.6% of the total boating accidents in states where mirrors are utilized.  Towed accidents accounted for 13.7% of the total boating accidents in states that require a spotter.  This indicates that mirror usage does not increase the rate at which towed accidents happen in comparison to total accidents.  In effect, this statistic takes the overall safety and reporting culture of the individual states into account.

As to @theloungelifequestion - we had a state senator that heard from his constituents enough to take the issue up.  I believe there were people who were not taking their summer vacations on Wisconsin lakes but rather traveling into Minnesota to utilize mirrors.  It took 3 years with different iterations of the bill introduced every year.  

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Thanks a ton @onwi.  Very interesting to hear about this.  Never hurts to have you and a few friends send a letter into our representative.

 

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21 minutes ago, csleaver said:

For me, having a spotter not only helps the driver know when the skier is down, and allows the driver to watch for hazards and other boaters in crowded situations, but the spotter can also provide help getting a skier on board of they are injured.

There very well is a time and a place for a helpful/focused spotter, like the crowded situation you allude to.  But if I and another boater want to avoid those crowded times and board when we know we are safe, without, we should be allowed to do so.

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Not to mention the rear camera.  I run with it on 100% of the time when towing a surfer on top of the mirror being up.  It isn't perfect, but it can certainly tell you when someone is down.

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I've definitely been in situations where a spotter was helpful.  Typically this is when lakes are super busy and an extra set of EXPERIENCED eyes can be helpful.  I rarely ever venture out onto the lakes when they're that busy.

I think a happy medium would be no spotters required before 10 am on weekends and holidays, and no spotters required at all midweek.

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Missouri, no spotter just a 3x8 mirror or something about half the size of the typical 14x4 ish mirror typically found on wake boats. If it is too crowded we dont surf, just shoot the bull with friends on the lake until it calms down.

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Our state allows skiing without a spotter, but with use of a mirror, if using waterski course. Otherwise we need a spotter over the age of 12. 

That said, we often ski outside the course without a spotter, but other watersports, nope, always with at least a spotter

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MN allows skiing without a spotter if you have a mirror.  Although I found out a couple years ago that the lake I ski on the most has a rule where you need to have a spotter.  Thankfully the maybe hundred times that we have skied there without one, nobody noticed.   Water patrol doesn't tend to get over to the area we ski in, especially early in the morning unless someone calls them.  Being that I am the only one skiing if only my wife is in the boat, we are in and out pretty quick.   I did have to laugh when I heard that one of the neighbors had gotten several tickets on the same lake in the same area - they were surfing without a spotter and someone called.  More likely had to do with them surfing in a thin arm of a bay where a surf wave really can tear up some docks.

Edited by oldjeep
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1 hour ago, UWSkier said:

I've definitely been in situations where a spotter was helpful.  Typically this is when lakes are super busy and an extra set of EXPERIENCED eyes can be helpful.  I rarely ever venture out onto the lakes when they're that busy.

I think a happy medium would be no spotters required before 10 am on weekends and holidays, and no spotters required at all midweek.

They tried to look into creating specific time periods in Wisconsin.  It wasn't feasible as time of year and part of the state make such a big difference.  In the end, they determined that lakes that utilize patrols that average a certain high number of hours per year would be able to put in their own spotter requirement.  The logic being that busy lakes require high patrol hours.  I think it was a good compromise.  

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On a related note, Oregon has the flagging rule as well.  Even if we could just go with a mirror, I don't even want to think about having to flag, spot and drive.  Although I do agree with the sentiment that some spotters/flaggers are more of a distraction (thinking of my kids and  their shenanigans on the boat).  In no way does it seem like having a spotter or flagger helps, it all comes down the person operating the boat.  With decades of experience under my belt, and a father who spent time to teach us how be responsible I am not worried about me.  Its the yahoos who just bought their first boat, or idiots on jet skis that worry me.

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2 minutes ago, Mattyb said:

On a related note, Oregon has the flagging rule as well.  Even if we could just go with a mirror, I don't even want to think about having to flag, spot and drive.  Although I do agree with the sentiment that some spotters/flaggers are more of a distraction (thinking of my kids and  their shenanigans on the boat).  In no way does it seem like having a spotter or flagger helps, it all comes down the person operating the boat.  With decades of experience under my belt, and a father who spent time to teach us how be responsible I am not worried about me.  Its the yahoos who just bought their first boat, or idiots on jet skis that worry me.

God I hate the flags.  We went to LOTO one year and had to deal with the whole flag thing.  Silly, you should be looking for people in the water not flags on a boat

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3 minutes ago, Mattyb said:

 (thinking of my kids and  their shenanigans on the boat)

Yea, my kids would have that broken over each others head in 20 mins tops....  LOL

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1 minute ago, Five Cent Worth said:

Yea, my kids would have that broken over each others head in 20 mins tops....  LOL

I cannot count the number of flags we have purchased.  They get stepped on, sat on, closed in a locker hinge...  Finally got one from a friend at the Dept. of Transportation that they use to flag on the road, solid.

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Having never seen a ski flag in use, what exactly is the protocol, and what is it meant to do?  How often does someone forget to wave (or quit waving) a flag, and does it end terribly? 

Honestly, this seems like some archaic thing dreamed up by non-boating lawyer after a couple of drunk dudes ran over his child back in the '50s.

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