Boating Safety | Boating License Requirements and Online Boating Safety Courses
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Boating Safety Legislation is changing throughout the United States. More and more boaters now require a boating license or boater education card in order to drive a boat on public waters. Boating Safety Education Courses are believed to reduce ones chances of being involved in a boating accident, and with online boating safety courses rapidly becoming the certification method of choice for most boaters, it is important to carefully choose the right boating safety course to meet your needs.
There are 45 states today that have some sort of mandatory boater education for some (if not all) boaters. However, most boaters seem to be unaware of these requirements, which lead to harsh fines and penalties at the start of each boating season.
Before heading out, it's always good idea to consult with local regulations on boat license requirements in the state where you're boating. Regulations change quickly and can vary from one year to the next. Remember, just because you might not require a license in your own state does not mean you won't need one in the state you're visiting.
Oregon, Alabama, and New Jersey are a few states that require all boaters, regardless of age, to have a boating license or boater education card when operating on state waters (there may be a minimum horsepower before you actually need a boating license).
Virginia and Washington are two states that are in the process of phasing-in all boaters over the next few years. Each year, a new age group must have a boating license or boater education card. By 2016, all boaters in Washington AND Virginia will need a boating license to go out on state waters.
Many other states have either a "born-on" requirement (such as Florida where anyone born on or after January 1, 1989 must have the boating license) or a set age requirement (e.g. North Carolina where anyone 26 years old and younger must be certified). This type of legislation is more common, however many of these states are at least exploring the possibility of mandatory safety education for all boaters.
The BoaterExam website is a convenient place to find boating license regulations for every state. Simply visit www.BoaterExam.com and click on your State of interest. If you do require a boating license, they offer online boating license certification exams in nearly 40 states.
According to the United States Coast Guard Reports on Boating Accidents (2007 - 2009) only 14% of boating fatalities were people who have received proper boating safety training and had a boating license. The Coast Guard, along with the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) believe that an educated boater is a safer boater.
Internet-Based boating safety education has been increasing in popularity. Instead of giving up a weekend for classroom instruction, more boaters now opt to study online at their own pace and take the multiple-choice certification exam from the comfort of home.
There are many choices for online courses available in most states, and students are encouraged to shop around to choose the course that is the right fit for their needs. Certain states do offer a free text-based course and final exam. Most courses, however, are run by private course providers, based on a nominal student fee and offer many advantages.
With the increase in popularity of Internet-based courses, many states are now moving to a "timed study" online boating safety course model. Where you could once simply challenge a boating safety certification exam, you now need to study a safe boating course in its entirety before you are allowed to take the final exam and get your boating license. Page timers and end of chapter quizzes are in place to ensure that no shortcuts can be taken.
With this new study format (often called "timed study" or "required study" courses), it is more important than ever to choose an engaging online course. After all, you will likely spend at least 3 hours studying the online training manual. Consult your state's boating safety organization for boating courses available to you. When you shop around to find a good course that meet your needs, consider the following:
- Animations - most boating courses do not offer any animated content. However a course that does offer boating safety videos will usually show a much higher success rate on the final exam.
- Narration - If you're studying a safe boating course on your own, consider the advantage of having a professionally narrated course where you can just sit back and listen to the study guide, instead of reading text on the computer. An added level of engagement can make a world of difference.
- Interactivity - Choose a course that allows you to get out of your seat once in a while and interact with the content. Interactive exercises are a great way to test your knowledge before you attempt an end of chapter quiz.
- Visual aids - If you're a visual learner, consider that most online courses offer a simple text-based boat license certification exam. Make sure you choose an online course that offers visual exam questions - this can easily mean the difference between failing and passing the final exam!
- Customer Service - What time of the day will you be taking your boating course and exam? If it's after 5pm or on a weekend… be sure you pick a course that offers extended customer service hours. If something goes wrong with your boating course, you'll want to be able to reach someone who can fix your problem right away.
Where there are options available to the boater, currently BoaterExam.com seems to be the only online Safe Boating Course that offers all of the previously mentioned advantages. There are over 150 animated and narrated boating safety videos, over 40 interactive exercises throughout the course, visual exam questions and 7-day a week customer service. They come highly recommended as over 98% of their students would recommend the course to those who need their boating license.
If you do need a boating license or boater education card, check out www.boaterexam.com today for more information. Whichever boating safety course you choose to take, please operate responsibly and be safe on the water!