Amid an uptick in drownings in Massachusetts, lawmakers in the state are hoping a new bill will help curb unsafe swimming practices.
Governor Charlie Baker filed legislation last week that would increase fines for swimming outside of designated waterfronts in the state.
According to the Boston NBC affiliate, the bill would boost the maximum fine to $500 for entering or swimming in any waters on Department of Conservation and Recreation property not designated for swimming. The legislation is intended to provide an appropriate penalty for swimming in unsafe areas and deter park visitors from considering unsafe activities, according to the Republican.
“Swimming at undesignated waterfronts is dangerous and too often leads to tragic consequences,” Baker said in a news release. “This legislation is part of a comprehensive plan to discourage risky behavior and ensure the safety of visitors to our state parks and beaches.”
Current penalties for violating DCR rules vary, with fines ranging from $20 to $200. Bakers bill would make fines uniform, with a maximum fine of $500.
The new bill comes as drownings have increased across the country, following a year without swimming lessons due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of kids in Massachusetts who received swim lessons in the last year was down because of the pandemic. In the wake of dozens of drownings in the state, water safety professionals say swim lessons are critical.