Marine Patrol clocking boaters

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LACONIA, N.H. (AP) – Marine Patrol officers armed with radar guns have begun clocking boat speeds on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Officers won’t pull over boats until Aug. 1 when a pilot boating speed enforcement program takes full effect. As of Sunday, officers will be testing the radar and collecting speed information in six spots.

The pilot program would set a 45 mph daytime and 25 mph nighttime limit in two specific areas of the Big Lake as a way to get information on whether the Legislature should set boating speeds.

Boating speeds has been controversial.

Groups like the Winnipesaukee Family Alliance for Boating Safety have been adamant in pushing a speed limit, which they say is necessary to prevent accidents and to ensure safety and quality of life.

Other groups, like the N.H. Recreational Boaters Association oppose speed limits. Their members say there is no data to support the argument that speed is a problem.

Many opposing speed limits also argue that limits discriminate against those owning performance boats.

In March, the House Transportation Committee voted to retain a proposal to set lake speed limits and hold it over to the next session.

Safety Commissioner Richard Flynn offered the pilot speed limit as an alternative that might help lawmakers gauge whether they should pursue a limit.

Safety Services Director Dave Barrett said his officers are ready to enforce a temporary speed limit on Winnipesaukee.

He originally hoped to have a pilot speed limit in place on two zones on Winnipesaukee by the July 4th weekend, but the plan has been delayed because legislators haven’t yet approved the administrative rule needed to implement an enforceable limit.

“The process is a little cumbersome … it’s driving the whole thing,” said Barrett. He said a public hearing must be held before the administrative rule is acted on.



Information from: Citizen, http://www.fosters.com/citizen

AP-ES-07-01-07 1248EDT

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