Spring in Georgia is a wonderful time of the year. Everything is blooming and the humidity is still at a comfortable level, making now a wonderful time to head out for an early spring boat ride.
But before cranking up that motor, you should first make sure that you are operating your boat safely. After all, the life you save could be your own.
Who can operate a boat legally in Georgia?
Safety starts with a sober, legal individual at the helm of a boat’s controls. In our state, boat operators can be under 12 years of age as long as their boat is 16’ or less in length and is either without power or uses no more than a 30-horsepower engine. They must also be accompanied by a sober and competent adult.
Those between 12 and 15 years of age are restricted to the same vessel lengths but are permitted to operate personal watercraft (PWC) up to 16’ without adult accompaniment as long as they took and passed the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ boating education course.
For operating purposes, individuals 16 years of age and older can operate any vessel on the state’s waterways if they:
- Are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Have proper ID (or a legible copy thereof) onboard their vessel
- Were born after Jan. 1, 1998, must have taken and passed the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved boating education course
- Have onboard their proof of passing the above course
Despite these regulations, accidents on the water can happen, and an inexperienced operator may be especially prone to mistakes.
What should those involved in an accident on the water do?
If you get into an accident with another vessel out on the water, you should render aid to the injured and call the authorities to report your accident. If you suffer injuries due to another boater’s negligence, you may need to file a claim for damages to recover the costs of your medical treatment, as well as other damages.