Amid Crowded Lakes, MN Looks Ahead to Boat Safety Requirements
Thursday, July 6, 2023
So far this summer, Minnesota has seen a lot of hot days, which means many people are soaking up the sun on boats, and in the coming years, watercraft operators will have to comply with new safety requirements.
This year, Minnesota legislators approved a phased-in program, calling on boat operators to complete a water safety course and written test before obtaining a permit. Current rules only apply to those between the ages of 12 and 17.
Adam Block, boating law administrator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which is in charge of developing the course, said expanding the requirement to adults comes amid a resurgence in boat registrations for the state.
"This is just looking to educate those that maybe don't touch the boat in their youth, and now they become adults, and they're going out and buying boats," Block explained. "We're hoping that it's going to provide a better experience for not only those new operators but those that are out there amongst the new operators as well."
With waterways more congested, supporters hope those operating motorized watercraft learn more about lake etiquette, in addition to safety. The law goes into effect in 2025 and included input from industry groups. There are also enhanced requirements for companies renting out personal watercraft.
Meanwhile, boating fatalities have trended higher in Minnesota in recent years, including 15 last year and 18 in 2021. Block urged boaters to do a safety inspection before heading to the lake.
"We would rather you do that in your driveway or somewhere else before you get to the boat launch," Block noted. "Because when you get to the boat launch, there's going to be a lot of other distracting factors that are going to be taking place."
He stressed you make sure your boat has all the necessary safety equipment before cruising the water. As for the new operator mandates, the first wave in 2025 will apply to those born on or after July 1, 2004. By 2028, it will stretch back to those born in 1987.
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