The Delaware Office of Boating Safety and Education, DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife, joins the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) to encourage boaters to “Spring Aboard,” an April 17-23 national campaign to prepare for boating season by enrolling in a boating safety course.
“Our boating safety education program plays a significant role in Delaware’s strong boating safety record,” said David Saveikis, director of DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife. “As a life-long boater myself, I encourage boaters to learn the boating ‘rules of the road’ and to practice safe boating each and every time they head out to enjoy our beautiful waterways.”
“Though some accidents are unavoidable, we need everyone on our waterways to be alert, use common sense and avoid actions that will put themselves, their passengers and other boaters at risk,” added Chief Robert Legates, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police.
“Education is the key to Delaware’s success in boating safety,” Chief Legates said. Under Delaware law, all persons born on or after Jan. 1, 1978 must successfully complete a boating safety course in order to operate a boat or personal watercraft in Delaware waters. In 2015, 2001 students took boating safety courses online or in a classroom.
“Last year, we had one boating-related fatality and 25 reportable boating accidents, which, while unfortunate, still puts Delaware below the national average based on the relative number of boaters. We’d like to see the number of accidents go down,” said Sgt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police boating safety coordinator, noting that to date this year, Delaware has had one reported boating accident and no fatalities. “To help maintain Delaware’s boating safety record, we recommend that everyone planning to operate a boat in Delaware waters take a safety course first, whether they are required to or not.”
U.S. Coast Guard statistics from 2014, the most recent year available, indicate that when the level of operator education was known, 80 percent of boating deaths occurred on boats where the boat operator had never received boating education instruction. Forty-nine states and U.S. territories require proof of completion of a boating education course for operators of some powered vessels, and many states, including Delaware, require completion of a course verified by NASBLA as meeting the national boating education standard for powerboat rental or operation.
“We know from many years of experience that an educated boater is safer, and boating is a lot more fun if you aren’t confused or worried the whole trip,” said NASBLA President Col. Darren Rider. “Boating isn’t like driving a car, and many boaters – both new and experienced – are uncertain about how to boat safely. The Spring Aboard campaign is our big, unified effort to get all boaters educated. Take a little time now so you are ready when that warm weather starts.” Rider also noted most states offer classroom courses. In Delaware, DNREC offers classroom boating safety courses in partnership with local boating safety organizations, such as the Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadrons.
Delaware’s 8-hour basic boating safety course, which fulfills Delaware’s mandatory boating safety class requirement, is offered in multiple locations statewide in one to four sessions. Upon completing the course, boaters receive a boating safety certificate, which they must carry with them while boating as proof of course completion.
Courses cover the rules and regulations of Delaware’s waterways including appropriate speed limits, responsible boating skills and awareness and how to distinguish navigational aids and water depths. Also covered are weather tips, information about basic engine mechanics and required and/or recommended safety equipment, what to do if a Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police officer stops your vessel and the dangers of boating under the influence.
Several providers also offer a Delaware-approved online version of the boating safety course. As an added incentive during NASBLA’s “Spring Aboard” campaign, BOATERExam.com will offer a 50 percent discount to students who complete their online boating safety course between April 17 and 23. For more information, visit www.boaterexam.com/usa/.
Delaware’s Office of Boating Safety and Education also provides volunteer instructors to private and non-profit organizations, schools, clubs and the general public to educate boaters on skills and seamanship and to encourage them to be safe, knowledgeable and responsible.
For more information, including Delaware’s boating safety course schedule, access to the online Delaware Boating Handbook and other boating information, please click Delaware Boating Safety, or contact Sgt. John McDerby at 302-739-9913 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife recognizes and thanks the majority of anglers, hunters and boaters who comply with and support Delaware’s fishing, hunting and boating laws and regulations. Citizens are encouraged to report fish and wildlife and boating violations to the Delaware Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police by calling 302-739-4580. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030 or online at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Hunting/Pages/OpGameTheft.aspx.
The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) is a national nonprofit organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety. NASBLA represents the recreational boating authorities of all 50 states and the U.S. territories. The association offers a variety of resources, including training, model acts, education standards and publications. Through a national network of thousands of professional educators, law enforcement officers and volunteers, NASBLA affects the lives of over 73.5 million American boaters.