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Boating: Rules of the Road

The “rules of the road” are just as important in operating a boat as they are in driving a car. The U.S. Coast Guard’s Inland Navigation Rules are the rules of the road for all boats and watercraft on public lakes and waterways in Texas. Here are some safety tips from these operating rules:


When approaching a boat from the opposite direction, you should stay to your right and as far apart as practical. The further apart you are, the easier and safer it is to cross each other’s wake.


When you overtake a vessel, you may pass it on either the left or the right. You should signal your intent by steering to the left or to the right while you are still far apart. Remember that the lead boat always has the right-of-way.


Power boats must yield the right-of-way to sailboats and boats being rowed or paddled.


Just like when you meet another car at an uncontrolled street intersection, the boat on the right has the right-of-way. Always yield to boats to the right of you as well as to boats ahead of you.

Not knowing the rules of the road is not a valid defense in a boating accident. You can get a copy of our national Inland Navigation Rules by sending $8.50 to the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402 (refer to stock no. 050-012-00287-8). Other safety information and literature concerning recreational boating can also be obtained by calling the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Hotline at 1-800-368- 5647.

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