SCMA supports test for California boaters

ORANGE, Calif. – The directors of the Southern California Marine Association have confirmed their support for the principal parts of the Boating Safety Law draft prepared by the California Department of Boating and Waterways, SCMA reported in a recent release.

The proposed legislation, which was initiated with encouragement from the National Association of States Boating Law Administrators, will require California motorboat operators to take and pass a written examination to demonstrate their knowledge of safe boating rules, regulations and practices.

As the draft law now reads, the earliest enforcement date commences on Jan. 1, 2011. Overall, the law would be phased in by age brackets over an eight-year period, so everyone in the age spectrum would not be covered until Jan. 1, 2018. The law would include all motorboat operators with engines in excess of 15 horsepower, and all sailboats over 30-feet in length. It is estimated that two to four million California boaters could be affected.

Although the SCMA Board of Directors unanimously agreed to support the initial concept and contents of the proposed Boating Safety law, it did so with several reservations.

First, SCMA is concerned about how the testing procedure and issuing of certificates will be administered. It is SCMA’s desire that all alternatives in this area be thoroughly explored so boaters will be least inconvenienced by governmental bureaucratic red tape.

Secondly, SCMA is anxious to review the cost and financial implications of this new law. How will this testing program be funded and at what cost to boaters? Will boaters have to renew their certificates periodically? Is there any supporting data to indicate that this education program will produce more benefits than an equal investment in greater on-water law enforcement?

SCMA said it stands ready to assist in the development of the proposed Boating Safety Law for California, hoping to result in the reduction of statewide boating accidents and deaths in the future, but also said it would remain vigilant in its goal to preserve boating as an unencumbered recreation that is enjoyed by millions of people annually.

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