Are recreational boating laws too lax?

Chances are, it’s getting pretty warm wherever you are — and that means that it’s boating season across the country

It’s a popular summer pastime, but its popularity makes marine safety officials nervous. The National Transportation Safety Board has had a standing recommendation to the states to improve their recreational boating safety since 1983.

Nowadays, the chief concerns are life jacket use — two states still don’t require life jacket use, period — and boater education requirements. As of Jan. 2010, 13 states did not require any sort of boater education before getting behind the wheel of a boat.

According to 2008 recreational boating statistics from the Coast Guard, 79 percent of recreational boating deaths happened when the person operating the boat had no official boating instruction. And according to NTSB officials, about 75 percent of boating accidents happen because of things that are in the operator’s control.

If you want to learn how to boat safely, or want to brush up on your skills, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators has a thorough database of local boating safety courses.

If you have any insight or stories to share from your own recreational boating experiences, share them! I can be reached at You can follow my reporting on marine safety by following me on twitter: @ariel_news21.

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