California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Thursday a bill that aims to increase the safety of California waterways by requiring boaters to pass a safety course and obtain a vessel operator card.
The bill was introduced this year by state Sens. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, after an NBC Bay Area investigation discovered that boaters who were inattentive or inexperienced caused the majority of boating accidents in the state, according to a report by the San Francisco television station.
At the time, California was one of only five states that did not require boater safety education.
The new law requires that boat operators pass a boating education examination and obtain a vessel operator card issued by the state Division of Boating and Waterways in order to operate a boat in California that is propelled by an engine.
The law is modeled on legislation that the Recreational Boaters of California previously sponsored. The new measure requires the state agency to issue a vessel operator card to people who have passed an approved examination.
“This legislation will enhance safety on the state’s waterways,” RBOC director of government relations Jerry Desmond Jr. said in a statement.
The requirement to obtain a vessel operator card initially will apply to operators 20 years old or younger, with a phased-in implementation date, depending on the age of the boater. The seven-year phase-in will begin in 2018 and will apply to everyone as of 2025.
Boaters are subject to the certification requirement according to the following schedule:
• On and after Jan.1, 2018: a person 20 or younger
• On and after Jan. 1, 2019: a person 25 or younger
• On and after Jan. 1, 2020: a person 35 or younger
• On and after Jan. 1, 2021: a person 40 or younger
• On and after Jan. 1, 2022: a person 45 or younger
• On and after Jan. 1, 2023: a person 50 or younger
• On and after Jan. 1, 2024: a person 60 or younger
• On and after Jan. 1, 2025: all persons, regardless of age