Virginia Boaters Must Take Safety Courses

As the weather gets warmer and students leave schools for summer, people spend more and more time on the waters around Hampton Roads, whether it’s in the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, the Lynnhaven or James rivers, or the Albemarle Sound in North Carolina. 

Although boating can be very pleasurable, when things go wrong on the water, they can go wrong fast. We recently reported on the surprisingly high accident rate on boats.

 Boating safety courses have been very useful in the past for boaters who are aware of the dangers. From this summer, they are the law.

As of July 2016, all personal watercraft operators age 14 and up, and all motorboat operators regardless of age are required to take a boating safety course.  Originally, the law stated that folks over 50-years-old were exempt from having to take the boater education course, but with the new July 2016 law, everyone operating a motorboat, jet ski, wave-runner, or any other type of personal watercraft, must take a course.  Small sailboats are exempt.  So even if you consider yourself to be a proficient boater, if you haven’t taken the course you must do so in order to avoid receiving a fine, and to ensure the safety of yourself and others out on the water.

Boating can be dangerous.  According to the United States Coast Guard’s annual report of recreational boating statistics, in 2014, there were 4,064 accidents.  Of these, 610 were fatal, and there were 2,678 injuries associated with them.  These accidents caused about $39 million dollars’ worth of property damage.  To learn more about the prevalence of boating accidents, and how to reduce them, click here to see our previous blog posting.

In order to reduce these staggering numbers, all boaters need to enroll in a boater safety class if they have not already done so.  For more information regarding Virginia boater safety courses, consult the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, or see their website.  The course ranges from how to safely operate a motorboat, to how to exercise clean boating habits in order to maintain our waterways.  The course also outlines necessary safety equipment required to have onboard, as well as how to operate boats next to commercial vessels. These courses will come in handy here in Hampton Roads where we have many busy commercial ports.  The importance of boater education lies in the notion that it allows boating to be safe and fun for you and everyone else on the water.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a boating accident, I encourage you to ensure that the proper medical treatment is sought out.  Also, if you believe the injury was not your fault, call an experienced personal injury lawyer.  Call the Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077 for a free consultation.


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