Boating Safety: Education is the key. Distractions are our nemesis.

– Nicki Polan, Executive Director, Michigan Boating Industries Association

Summer is right around the corner and boaters are eagerly planning and purchasing for another fun-filled boating season. This is also the time many people, especially young boaters, sign up to take a boating safety course.

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

Education is the key to safety. In 2012, a law went into effect that makes boater’s safety training a requirement in Michigan for all motor boat 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 combined, over time, put Michigan in the mandatory education category, and with these education requirements our safety record will only get better.

Just as education is our friend, distractions are our nemesis. Most boating accidents are caused by distracted boaters, much like most automobile accidents.  If a distracted boater does not see a person swimming, in tow, or another boater, we have a problem. Similarly, if a boater doesn’t know what a diver flag is and drives over to check it out, we also have a problem.

Whether you are required 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.

There is a world of boating safety (and other) information available on 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!

Nicki Polan
Executive Director
Michigan Boating Industries Association