New Texas boating safety law require boaters to be certified

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - On September first a new state law goes into effect that requires anyone born on or after September 1, 1993 take a boater education class.

"On his 18th birthday he goes down and buys a motor boat , puts it in the water, takes off. What does he know?" says Greg Denman, area chief for East Texas Boater Instruction.

Denman isn't counting on teenagers to know a thing about boating.

"Navigating aids, guides, markers out on the water, lights, right-a-ways," says Denman.

This fall, not knowing is no longer an excuse.

After September first, it will be illegal for young boaters who haven't taken the education class to take a boat like this out on the water.

Anyone born on or after September 1, 1993 will be required to take the class, either online or in a classroom.

16-year-old Jake Cooper is learning about the class.

He and his dad fish on a boat. So he'll have to be certified.

"They have hunters safety for the kids that hunt and for the kids with boats they ought to go through class just like drivers ed to drive a car," says Daniel Cooper, Jake's father.

Jake isn't as thrilled about the class.

"It's a probably a good thing for people who don't know a lot of boating or fishing to help them learn. I think it's a little bit of a pain," says Jake.

However, knowing comes with experience.

"When we first got the boat we didn't know anything about it. We thought you just bought it and put on the lake, but it's a lot more complicated than that," says Jake.

If you do not get certified, the consequences are high.

Texas ranks sixth in the country for boats on the water, and the number of deaths is on the rise.

Denman hopes his class will turn the tide on the deadly trend.

"Once we get this generation out there with knowledge of what to do we should see more efficient water ways, safer water ways," says Denman.

Changes to Texas laws targeting boating safety include: mandatory boating safety education certification for anyone born on or after September 1, 1993 to operate a vessel with a motor of more than 15 horsepower or a wind-blown vessel measuring more than 14 feet in length. While all boaters are encouraged to take boating safety education, those born before September 1, 1993, are exempt from required certification.