Sea Tow releases boater education survey results

Southold, N.Y. – Sea Tow Services International Inc. has released the results of its membership survey on mandatory recreational boater education, and more than 75 percent of respondents say they believe boater education should be mandatory, Sea Tow reported in a release yesterday.

The online survey, which yielded over 3,000 responses in less than three days, was conducted late last month in preparation for Sea Tow’s upcoming Boater Education Roundtable discussion. Ninety-two percent of the respondents were Sea Tow members.

The results were as follows:

  • 74.9% of the survey respondents have taken a boating safety course
  • 59% of those who took a course said they did so voluntarily. Only 15.9% indicated the course was mandatory in their state
  • Of the 25.1% who’ve never taken a course, nearly half cited their years of boating experience as the reason, with the other half claiming they’ve yet to make the time to do so
  • 90% of all respondents said it’s important for every boater to take a boater education course
  • 74.1% believe that the course content should be standardized across all 50 states
  • 76.8% of those polled believe boater education should be mandatory
  • 68.9% of those surveyed also said that if boater education was to become mandatory, current boaters should not be exempt – a particularly impressive statistic given that 65% of those surveyed had well over 10 years of boating experience
  • 90.2% of all respondents said requiring boater education would improve the recreational boating experience
  • The survey also polled newcomers to boating (those with three years or less experience). A resounding 93.3% indicated it was important for them to have had some form of education prior to, or in conjunction with, entering the sport.

    Of all those surveyed, 96.3% cited “Rules of the Road” as the No. 1 topic boaters should know, with boat handling and boating safety procedures also scoring well into the ninetieth percentile. When asked for additional comments, well over 60% of the respondents wrote in a need for “basic boating etiquette” and “common courtesy,” particularly at the boat ramps.

    According to Sea Tow president, Capt. Keith Cummings, “Nearly one-third of the survey respondents also told us about incidents they’ve witnessed or been directly involved in that could have been avoided had one or both parties been better educated.

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    “Their comments are very much in line with the incident reports we receive from our franchise network of over 700 captains and crew, which show a significant increase in avoidable accidents over recent years,” Cummings said. “Couple this with the Coast Guard’s most recent statistics report, which show that 70% of boating fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction, and it’s clear that there’s a very real, very immediate need for an increase in boater education nationwide.”

    Sea Tow will be hosting an executive roundtable discussion at its headquarters on Sept. 24 to discuss the various issues relating to mandating boater education. The roundtable will include industry representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, marine retailers and manufacturers and various marine associations of record.

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