Koczera Proposing Bill Requiring Boating Safety Course, Licensing
If people need to take safety courses before driving a motor vehicle, then one State Representative thinks boaters should have to do the same.
State Representative Robert Koczera of New Bedford is pushing for legislation that would require all motorboat operators in Massachusetts to undergo a safety course and be certified to operate the watercraft.
"People should know the rules, and there are rules to follow when on the water," he said. "Everyone should have a good time, but not at the expense of endangering other people."
Koczera said the legislation is based on a similar law that has been in place for years in New Hampshire.
"We have laws in Massachusetts that require watercraft to have safety equipment such as airhorns, life preservers, fire extinguishers," he said. "This would be along those lines, something that will make sure that people can have a good time and operate their watercraft safely and respectfully."
He pointed out that one of the biggest issues is that motorboat operators is that they don't understand sailboats have the right of way.
"We here all the time about watercraft colliding with one another," he said. "If you talk to people who sail sailboats, they'll tell you a lot of motorboats will come dangerously close or cross before them, thinking their speed makes all the difference."
"The fees are very minimum," Koczera said, noting that long-time boaters may be "grandfathered" into not having to take the course. "It's a $30 fee for the course, and then $10 for the license fee. And it's not something you renew, it's not something you update. It's just something you take, receive certification and it will follow you."
Koczera said this isn't just a money grab from the state legislature, looking to sink boaters.
"The intent here is safety. It's not to raise revenue at all," he said. "We're seeing reckless behavior, road rage on the streets. People want to go out and have a good time on the water. We don't want a tragedy to happen and have people claim they weren't aware, weren't thinking. This will set the tone for proper procedure and people will follow it accordingly."