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Whether a beginner or veteran, an online boating class can provide benefits

Whether a beginner or veteran, an online boating class can provide benefits

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Valuable information to help young and new boaters learn how to successfully and skillfully operate a boat – and also to help improve the capability of experienced boaters -- is available at your fingertips with online boater safety classes.

Online classes offer the convenience of taking the courses in the comfort of one’s home and at the time you choose, and they provide vital knowledge that can help prevent boating tragedies.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department offers these classes online, and they are required for anyone born on or after Sept. 1, 1993, to legally operate a boat on Texas’ public waterways. The classes can also be taken by other boaters who want to improve their knowledge of boating safety.

In 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard reported there were 4,463 boating accidents that resulted in 701 deaths, 2,903 injuries and about $49 million in property damage. The fatality rate was nearly six deaths per 100,000 registered recreational boats. The 2016 death rate for boating accidents was 11.3 percent higher than the previous year.

At least 77 percent of fatal boating accidents involved boat operators who had not taken a boating safety class.

Approved online classes may be taken via boaterexam.com or boat-ed.com, which each charge a $20 fee, or boatus.org, which offers the course free of charge.

Topics covered in the class include information on parts and types of boats and engines, navigation rules, information about safely casting off and docking, safe boat operation and how to respond to different boating emergencies.

The classes help prepare boaters for different challenges they may face on the water. The class is beneficial for those who may be new to boating, as well as those who feel their boating skills and knowledge could be enhanced by the course. An added bonus for some boaters is that boat insurance companies sometimes offer a discount for those who complete the course. Contact your insurance company to see if it participates in this program.

Boater education classes had regularly been offered at Brazos River Authority reservoirs in the past, but a trend toward people having the convenience of being able to complete the classes online means the courses will no longer be offered on site at the BRA’s three reservoirs. To learn more about boating safety and related Texas laws, please click here.

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