Summer is quickly approaching, and more and more boaters will crowd the state’s waters. However, more boaters could mean more hazards. South Carolina currently has a law that requires any person under the age of 16 to take boater safety courses before operating a boat in the state’s waters. There is currently discussion among state lawmakers about making those mandatory for all new boaters, but no formal proposal says Department of Natural Resources spokesman Mike Willis. He says that safety courses are always a good idea.
“There does need to be more training and the waterways would be safer if all boaters would take a boater education course. They are really easy to take, you can go to the DNR website which is dnr.sc.gov and you can get the date, time, and location of a free boater education course in your area,” says Willis.
Willis says there may be a certain number of people his agency may never reach, but he emphasizes that education is extremely important when it comes to boating.
“Our boating statistics clearly show us that folks who have taken and successfully completed a boater education course, they’re better boaters. They’re safer boaters, there’s no doubt about that,” says Willis.
Willis urges boaters use their best safety device: “Common sense goes a long way on the water, it really does. So, use common sense, use good judgment, don’t drink while you are operating a boat. Stay alert, and stay aware while you are operating a boat. If folks would do that, we could avoid a lot of accidents,” says Willis.
Willis says he encourages safety classes, but they are not required for any boater over the age of 16.