Boating Safety Education is key to a safe and fun summer

Boating Safety Education is key to a safe and fun summer on the water and it can get you a free ticket to the Progressive Novi Boat Show

–  Nicki Polan, Executive Director, Michigan Boating Industries Association

Spring is nearly here and that means boat launching is right around the corner. It’s time to start planning for summer boating fun, and make sure that your plans include boater education for you and your family if you are new to the sport.

Generally, when looking at the statistics, Michigan’s boaters are very safe. Michigan is the third largest in boat registrations in the country, yet we have what is considered a comparatively low number of boating accidents and fatalities per boat according to the National Association of States Boating Law Advisors (NASBLA).

Who is required by law to take a boater safety course? In 2012, a law went into effect that makes boater’s safety training a requirement in Michigan for all motorboat operators born after July 1, 1996.  This is in addition to the safety education requirement for those operating PWCs that were born after December 1, 1978.  These laws combined, over time, put Michigan in the mandatory education category, and with these education requirements our safety record will only get better.

Many organizations offer boating safety classes including your county marine sheriffs, the MI DNR, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, and the U.S. Power Squadron. These classes will help boaters understand the rules of the water, how to operate safely, how to identify diver buoys, and so much more. MBIA will be hosting a Free Boater’s Safety Course on March 11 during our Progressive Novi Boat Show. This course will be taught by the Oakland County Marine Sheriff’s Division. Registration is now open at www.NoviBoatShow.net. All who complete the class will receive a free ticket to the show.

Other important points to teach our new boaters include: 1) The best fuel for your boat contains no Ethanol (E0) and often referred to as recreation fuel, 2) Don’t let friends without the proper education operate your family’s boat or personal watercraft, not only is it dangerous, it’s a liability for your family, 3) watch your wake and share the lake to avoid upsetting other lake users and neighbors. The general rules are to keep your music down, avoid repeated passes, and stay 100 feet from other boaters, docks, shoreline and everything else.

Whether you are required by law to take a class or not, boater education is sure to enhance your boating experience. It can also bring you a discount on your boat insurance, and peace of mind.

If you miss the class at the Novi Boat Show, take a look at www.michigan.gov/DNR – including a link to Boat Ed, the official provider of Michigan’s boating safety course.  Even if you have been boating for 30 years, you might be surprised what you don’t know.

Happy Boating!