July 2006

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Oklahoma Joins States Requiring Boater Ed For Young Boaters

AZBW NEWS SERVICE — Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry signed legislation June 6 that will require young boaters to take boating-education courses.

"The majority of boating fatalities involve operators who have not had proper training," the governor said. "These common sense measurers will help ensure that our young people are prepared to safely operate boats and save lives on Oklahoma’s lakes."

The legislation, Senate Bill 1495, creates the Kyle Williams Boating Safety Education Act, named in honor of a 12-year-old Edmond boy who died in a personal watercraft accident nearly two years ago.

The measure establishes new requirements for children under 16 to operate certain types of watercraft, the governor’s office said in a release.

Existing Oklahoma law prohibits children under 12 from operating a boat or personal watercraft but includes no educational requirements. SB 1495 will require those between the ages of 12 and 16 to complete a boater-safety education course and be supervised by an adult.

With SB 1495, Oklahoma joins 44 other states that require boating-safety education for teens and children.

Boater education courses are currently available free of charge through the Department of Public Safety, so the legislation will not require any additional appropriation of tax dollars, the governor’s office said.

The legislation includes a fine of up to $100 for a first offense and up to $500 for a second offense for any parent or other supervising adult or the owner of the vessel — who knows, or should have known, that the operator is not in compliance with the certification requirements — who allows a child between 12 and 16 to operate a vessel without having completed the required boater-safety course.

Arizona is one of the few states that do not require mandatory boater education.


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