Coast Guard Urged To Adopt Tougher Boating Regulations
AZBW NEWS SERVICE — A U.S. Senator says tougher boating regulations are
needed to protect the millions of people who use boats every year in the
During a Nov. 30 news conference, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.)
called on the Coast Guard — which has jurisdiction over federal waters— to
implement new, stringent boating regulations.
Citing Coast Guard reports that approximately 70 percent of all
reported fatalities occur on boats where the operator had not received
boating safety instruction, Schumer said that the Coast Guard should
expand boating-safety programs and insurance-incentive agreements.
Complicating factors of driving a boat include the lack of proper and
adequate safety training, especially for night operation, Schumer said.
Regular boat operators should be encouraged to enroll in boating-safety
and training programs certified by the Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard
should also develop regulations in cooperation with the insurance industry
to ensure that boat operators are rewarded accordingly for their safety
efforts, he said.
"I believe that such instructional courses should be mandatory if a
driver of a boat is involved in a serious marine accident," Schumer said.
And, because alcohol was reported to be involved in approximately
one-third of all boating fatalities in 2004, Schumer said that the Coast
Guard should adopt new regulations that will make it harder for dangerous
boaters to get behind the wheel and crack down on boating while
Detecting drunken boat operators is far more difficult than identifying
drunken drivers on the road. Indicators such as crossing a double line are
not available on the water, Schumer said.
"I recommend that the Coast Guard work with state and local officials
to ensure mandatory Breathalyzer tests for all boat passengers at the time
of a crash. Furthermore, stiffer penalties should be enacted for those who
are found guilty of boating while intoxicated."
Schumer also wants tougher requirements in order for states to receive
federal boat safety grant funding. He cited the Coast Guard’s program that
gives funding to states if they have a "boating safety education program."
Unfortunately, Schumer said, due to the ambiguity of the program
language, most states get the funds without having adequate training
programs. "The Coast Guard should spell out stricter requirements for the
states to receive this funding, such as better and more diverse courses
and laying out more specific requirements."
Schumer also called on the Coast Guard to standardize nighttime safety
lighting on all new boats — adding more lighting to make visibility easier
while boating at night.
In a letter to Admiral Thomas H. Collins, Commandant of the United
States Coast Guard, in which he outlined his recommendations, Schumer
wrote, "I hope you will act on these recommendations before the 2006
summer boating season."