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MADISON — Wisconsin’s “move over law” to protect roadside emergency responders expands to the state’s waters this summer under revisions to the boating rules and regulations code, also known as chapter NR 5 of the Wis. Admin. Code.
Warden Roy Zellmer, Department of Natural Resources’ boating administrator, says the law’s expansion to add a slow-no-wake buffer around emergency vessels was in response to concerns about officer and public safety.
“The purpose is to create a safety buffer for emergency responders to work without risking being struck or maneuvering in big wakes by boats passing too close to an emergency site,” Zellmer said. “The DNR asked for the law change out of concern for public safety and law enforcement officer safety.”
The law’s revision adds a slow-no-wake within 100 feet of patrol boats displaying emergency lights. The revisions took effect on June 1 and the DNR efforts this summer will be to inform and educate boaters on the change.
The motor vehicle Move Over Laws are in all states and require drivers to move by at least one lane away from emergency vehicles with activated sirens and-or flashing lights. If moving away by at least one lane is impossible, drivers are required to slow speeds to reasonable speeds or a set limit below the speed limit as determined by local authorities.
More changes to NR 5
Other changes to the state’s boating rules and regulations affect the use of blue lights and noise levels.
Zellmer says boaters can no longer display blue colored lights. “The blue LED lighting had been mistaken for law enforcement lights at night and was causing some confusion to the public,” he said.
Noise level testing requirements have been revised to meet Society of Automotive Engineers practices and does not link minimum distances to tests.
For more information about boating in Wisconsin, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword “boat.”