Boating is a fun Michigan activity to do solo, with family, or with friends. However, as with all vehicular activities, whether by land, sea, or air, one must ensure to follow safety rules, procedures, and practices. Safe riding is a must, no matter what the vehicle is.
Understanding Boating in Michigan
The U.S. Coast Guard provided high school students in Michigan with a free class called “Pleasure Boating” in the early 1970s. The class wanted to encourage and teach them safe and smart boating practices. Michigan has 11,000 lakes, and the voluntary lesson gave parents peace of mind should their children decide to go boating for fun. Attendees of the course received a certificate to signify that they completed the session.
Currently, classes for those who want to go boating are not voluntary. The state of Michigan requires any citizen born after June 30, 1996, to be a holder of a Michigan Boating Certificate. It certifies that the holder is equipped with the necessary knowledge to operate a boating vessel safely.
The class may not be voluntary, but it is for free. Anyone interested in boating should enroll in a free, in-person boating class handled by certified boating instructors. These classes teach general boating and water safety, operation and fueling, navigational rules, environmental concerns, causes of crashes, and the reporting responsibilities of the boat operator. Takers should pass the written exam given by getting a score of at least 75%. Passers will be given a certified boater card. Those who want to study in advance can also check the state’s boating laws official handbook.
The state also approved an online version of the course, which comes with a fee. Boat-Ed offers an online training program that costs $29.50, where students also need to pass an exam to get certified. Two other state-approved online courses that interested boaters can take are courses offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and America’s Boating Club.
Michigan residents who want to operate a personal watercraft (PWC) such as a wave runner and a jet ski also need to obtain the same certification. The rule applies to residents born after December 31, 1978.
Other Safety Regulations to Consider
Aside from getting the Michigan Boating Certificate, there are safety regulations that one should consider when operating a vessel on the water. For example, a boat operator in Michigan must be at least 12 years old. To drive a PWC, one must not be less than 14 years old. There are also restrictions on who can operate vessels of certain horsepower.
In addition, some rules and regulations are specific to different counties. The Department of Natural Resources provides a reference for these county-specific boating guidelines.
The Need for Boating Regulations
Michigan has various boating rules and regulations, and for good reasons. Boating accidents can happen due to the recklessness of the pilot, which can lead to injuries, deaths, and loss of property. These reckless boat operators harm other responsible boat operators and swimmers. For instance, a boat driver was convicted for killing an 18-year-old swimmer while operating a boat under the influence. In 2020, around 30 people were killed in different boating accidents in the state. Aside from that, people have gone missing due to boating accidents.
Anybody involved in a boating accident in Michigan waters should complete the Official Boating Accident Report form. The form can help establish liability in a boating accident and with insurance claims. Anyone involved in a boating collision, a fall overboard, a boat capsizing, or other accidents should get a copy of the form.
Marine patrols are in charge of ensuring the safety of everyone while on Michigan waters. However, boat operators must still be responsible and careful to avoid accidents.
Basic Safety Guidelines to Follow
Boat operators should be mindful of navigational aids and markers when operating a sea vessel. They must also avoid operating a boat when under the influence of alcohol. The same BAC limit applies on the sea and land.
Depending on the size of the vessel, the Coast Guard requires certain equipment that the boat operator should have on board. If an operator is caught without the required equipment, they may be fined.
Contact The Clark Law Office If You Get Involved in a Boating Accident
Even if you do everything right and obey all rules and regulations, sometimes, accidents still do happen. When they do, call us at The Clark Law Office right away. Our lawyers are knowledgeable in boating laws and are experienced in boating accident cases. We will help you get the right compensation for your injuries and other damages. Call us at +1 (517) 347-6900, and we will help you throughout your case.