Mandatory Boating Education In Virginia

Mandatory Boating Education in Virginia

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Mandatory Boating Education In Virginia It appears that Mandatory Boating Education will be passed into law here in Virginia shortly. For those on Smith Mountain Lake or anyone interested, you can read all about what it involves at Boat Virginia. In a nutshell, anyone operating a boat will be required to pass a class proving they understand and will utilize basic boater safety. Bill Cochran of the Roanoke Times doesn’t prefer this new law, and shares his perception of some of the positive and negative factors involving it in the excerpts below.

Things I like about the mandatory boating education movement:

>It will be phased in from July 1, 2009, to July 1, 2016, which should help avoid a stampede of everyone trying to get certified at the same moment.

>The fact that I will be able to take the course and examination at home, maybe even online.

>The amendment allows a boater to let his uncertified son or daughter or guest take the wheel of the craft under the operator’s supervision. Lacking that, there would be a decline in new boaters and boat sales. Strict hunter-education requirements have been cutting into the recruitment of new hunters to the point that several states have revisited their laws.

>The idea that violators won’t be buried in jail and that fines will be reasonable.

>The renewed trust that the guy heading his boat straight for me knows the rules of the road and will veer to the right because he has had training.

Here are some things I don’t like about the mandatory boating education movement:


>The incorrect projection that a multiple-choice, written test will suddenly take all of the risks out of boating.

>The reality that the mandatory boating education movement is a spin-off of a tragic, high-profile accident on Smith Mountain Lake that had nothing to do with education but everything to do with irresponsibility, excessive speed, and intoxication.

>The fact that the lawmakers have zeroed in on boater education alone when the National Transportation Safety Board places equal emphasis on the mandatory use of personal flotation devices by children. Virginia is one of six states that do not require children to wear a PFD. A study by the board revealed that 85 percent of the people who drowned in a boating accident were not wearing PFDs.

>The lack of a provision to exempt the operators of small boats, the kind powered by electric motors or outboards of less than 10 horsepower.

>The failure to nail down what all this is going to cost and who is going to pay for it.

>The figure being flaunted is that 80 percent of boating accidents involve operators who have not taken boater safety training. What would you expect, since Virginia does not require such training?

>The fact that the Senate bill calls for mandatory training “on any inland lake wholly located within the commonwealth,” which would eliminate saltwater along with Kerr and Gaston lakes, which are shared with North Carolina. If we are going to have it, make it uniform across the state.

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