The weather throughout Georgia may be unsettled still, but boating safety advocates urge boaters to enroll in a boating education course. The Spring Aboard – Take a Boating Education Course campaign encourages boaters to become better educated prior to the kickoff of the boating season.
“Taking a boating education course is the first thing everyone should do before they go boating,” said Mark Brown, president of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), lead organization for the campaign. “These courses teach you about navigation rules, laws that must be followed in your state, and provide safety checklists that go a long way in helping you and your loved ones have a fun and enjoyable boating season. Whether you are a first-time boater, or have years of experience, there is always more to learn when taking to the water. Taking a boating education course is one of the best things you can do to prevent accidents on the water.”
United States Coast Guard statistics indicate that, of those accidents where the level of operator education was known, 81 percent of boating deaths occurred on boats where the boat operator never had received boating education instruction.
There’s a course to meet each boater’s busy schedule. Boaters have multiple options, from classroom courses offered by the local U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons local Atlanta’s Boating Club, to various online offerings available anytime, day or night.
Many states, including Georgia, require completion of a course verified by NASBLA as meeting the national boating education standard for powerboat rental or operation. In Georgia, anyone born after Jan. 1, 1998, must complete a boating education course approved by the Department of Natural Resources and NASBLA before operating a motorized vessel on Georgia state waters. For a summary of Georgia’s regulations, visit www.gadnrle.org.
The annual campaign is led by NASBLA, and produced under a grant administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. Additionally, the campaign is supported by state, federal and nonprofit partners. It is open to participation by all states, territories, boating education organizations, instructors and course providers. For more information, visit www.springaboard.org.
By: Greg Fonzeno is the public education officer and vice commander of the local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit (Flotilla 22) at Allatoona Lake.