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Training a generation of safer boaters

Karns & Kerrison

Many Rhode Island residents spend a significant amount of their recreation time in or around the state's many waterways. This leads to rivers and bays that have a tendency to become congested, and therefore dangerous. Safety training is one of the most effective tools one might use to protect oneself and any fellow boaters from the risks posed by crowded water

The state now requires young people to obtain boating licenses. According to the Department of Environmental Management, everyone born in or after 1986 must complete an educational course on boating safety. Additionally, the DEM requires that all people take the courses if they intend to use jet skis or other qualifying personal watercraft, regardless of the rider's age. 

This might seem an onerous task, but the benefits of having a boating population with a baseline competence in water safety should be mostly obvious. In addition, there are potential legal ramifications ignoring the education requirement. For example, untrained operators involved in boating accident cases might have a harder time cultivating the credibility to disprove a claim of reckless boating, and therefore end up with a less advantageous settlement, insurance decision or court opinion than the opposition. 

Luckily, it is relatively easy to gain the necessary credentials to boat in the state. According to the DEM, classes take just a minimum of 8 hours and safety exams occur regularly in Providence. This makes it simple for most state residents to complete the program. As a side note, out-of-state visitors with equivalent qualifications in their own states should be able to take to Rhode Island waters legally.


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