Wisconsin to require boating safety class for 16-year-olds

MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin is on the verge of enacting a law that would require 16-year-olds to pass a safety course before they could operate a powerboat in the state, the Associated Press reported in a story on the Chicago Sun-Times‘ Web site this morning.

The bill that would make that law a reality has already been approved by the state’s legislature and is now awaits Governor Jim Doyle’s signature.

The state has certified boating safety classes for years, even though the courses never were mandatory for anyone 16 and older.

Children aged 10 to 15 can currently operate a boat only if they are with a parent or other responsible adult. Children aged 12 to 15 can operate a boat without adult supervision if they have passed a state-sanctioned boat safety class.

The bill does not change those provisions.

“We think this law will have a powerful and positive impact on boating in Wisconsin,” said Peter Peregrine of Appleton, a volunteer with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. “This is happening all over the country. There are 33 other states with similar laws.”

Wisconsin already mandates training for 16-year-old drivers of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, Learman said.

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