Boating Safety Bill Approved by Okla. Lawmakers

May 26, 2006

In response to the tragic death of a 12-year-old Edmond boy who was killed in a jet-ski accident in August 2004, Oklahoma lawmakers passed a measure aimed at better protect children by improving boating safety requirements.

Senate Bill 1495, by State Sen. Kenneth Corn (D-Poteau) and State Rep. Ken Miller, would create the “Kyle Williams Boating Safety Education Act,” placing certain stipulations on anyone under age 16 operating a vessel with a motor in excess of 10 horsepower or any sailboat more than 16 feet long.

The bill requires children between the ages of 12 and 16 to complete a boater safety education course and be accompanied by an adult before being allowed to operate such vessels. For a child between the ages of 12 and 16 to operate a personal watercraft they must be supervised by an adult within a visual distance of 500 yards.

Currently, Oklahoma law requires a person to be at least 12 years old to operate a jet ski or boat, but there are no additional educational requirements. Oklahoma is one of only eight states that do not require teenagers and children to take a boater education course prior to operating a watercraft.

Studies have shown that 80 percent of fatalities involving watercraft happen when the operator has not had any boating education.

Miller’s bill has been supported by the Personal Watercraft Industry Association.

SB 1495 passed on the House floor by a vote of 91-4 and now heads to the governor’s desk to await his approval.

Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives

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