FRESNO, Calif. - Starting next year, there will be changes on exactly who can drive a boat. According to the State Parks Division of Boating and Waterway, anyone under the age 20 will have to take a boater safety test and get a boat driving license. By the year 2025, everyone regardless of age will have to do the same thing.
It's a sound like no other - the buzz of the motor, the push of the waves. For boater Bruce Marion, it's his solace.
"All your stresses, all your problems, just fade away when you're out on the water," exclaimed Marion.
But Marion, who owns The Boat Shoppe in Downtown Fresno, said he's had some not-so-fun boating experiences in year's past.
He explained, "I've been hit, I've been hit, ya, and it's been an inexperienced operator spinnin donuts. I'm going by, and he ran right over my bow of the boat."
That's why when Marion heard the State will be enforcing a new law mandating boat drivers to undergo marine education and get a boating driver's license, he thought it was about time.
Marion said, "One, it teaches people the importance of safe operation of a vessel. And anything that can help the personal watercraft operators understand what they're operating."
The law goes into affect on the first of the New Year. Boat drivers can start taking the approved boating safety course online now. According to the DBW, the driver's card will cost between $8 and $10. In 2018, only boat drivers under the age of 20 will have to abide by the new law. And by the year 2025, all boat drivers will have to be educated and licensed. In 2015, the DBW reports 724 recreational vessels were involved in reported accidents and 49 boaters died in California.
Millerton Lake State Park ranger Steve Barber said he hopes this new mandate will lower the number of boating incidents on the water.
Barber stated, "The majority of the vessel accidents that we respond to out here, more often then not, the folks have very little to no experience whatsoever when it comes to operating the vessel."
"You will save half of the lives that were lost last year," ended Marion.
For more information on the new law, click here.