RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With Memorial Day weekend coming up, many people may be headed out to celebrate the holiday boating – but with more traffic comes more risk.

Paige Pearson with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) said an increase in Virginia residents heading out on the water for the holidays is expected.

Pearson said some people treat driving a boat the same as driving a car. While they have similarities, knowing the differences between the modes of transportation could save your life.

“It’s the inevitable. If something could go wrong, which it can go wrong in a split-second, things can turn tragic,” she said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen or when.”

Pearson advised all boat passengers to always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket that fits properly and to never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The DWR reported that there were 89 boating incidents – including 19 deaths – in 2021, which is down from 110 incidents the year before.

In one of those incidents last year, a storm overturned three boats in the Swift Creek Reservoir in Chesterfield County and forced four people into the cold water.

In April 2020, Gabe Henderson, a Deep Run High School student-athlete, died in a boating accident on Lake Anna.

Shayla Jackson, who was fishing at Osbourne Landing Park in Henrico County Monday, said she always pays attention to her surroundings.

“Making sure there’s no boats or anything around when you do cast out,” she said.

Pearson said alcohol and speed remain some of the highest contributing factors in recreational boater deaths.

“More people means more accidents unfortunately,” she said. “Speed is always a factor and not paying attention, so we just ask that when you’re out and about there’s tons of people out, look both ways a few times. Make sure you know where you’re going.”

Conservation Police will be out monitoring the water and will stop those who drive recklessly.