Concord — June 25, 2008 — Boaters who like to drive fast will have to slow down on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee next summer. Gov. John Lynch said Wednesday he will sign a bill to set speed limits on the lake for two years. Lynch said he has not gotten the bill yet.
“I do think the lake needs to be a place everybody can enjoy,” he said. “I think speed is an issue on the lake.”
The speed limits will be 45 mph during the day and 25 mph at night, effective Jan. 1.
Boat speed limits have been debated for years. This plan differs from past plans because it applies only to Lake Winnipesaukee and would go off the books in two years.
Lynch said he felt badly about a recent boating accident on Lake Winnipesaukee that killed one woman, but said it was not the reason he supports the bill. Investigators have not said whether speed was a factor in the boat crash.
Speed-limit supporters had argued two years would be plenty of time for a test. They said people are afraid to canoe or swim, especially on weekends when boat traffic is most congested.
Opponents said the limits are unnecessary. They pointed to a state Marine Patrol study last summer that found few boats exceeded the proposed limit. Out of 3,852 boats clocked by radar, only 83 were going faster than 45 mph. They argued it made no sense to pass a law in hopes a small, inconsiderate group would change its habits.
Two years ago, the House passed a bill to impose limits on all lakes and rivers, but the Senate killed it.
Earlier this month, a boating accident killed a passenger in a boat driven by Erica Blizzard. An experienced boater and executive at her father’s marina in Laconia, Blizzard is president of the New Hampshire Recreational Boaters Association, which recently opposed imposing boat speed limits on the lake – the largest lake in the state. Investigators have not said whether speed was a factor in the crash.