Local News

Mandatory boater education idea making waves

Posted September 8, 2008 6:36 p.m. EDT
Updated September 8, 2008 10:12 p.m. EDT

— A group of homeowners on Lake Gaston say there are far too many reckless boaters on North Carolina waterways and it is time for a change. 

“There are no center lines on the highways out here. There are no brakes on boats,” Pete Deschenes, with the Lake Gaston Homeowners Association, said.

Almost daily, Deschenes says he sees boats being driven recklessly. He says he wonders if boaters know what the rules are.

“This all comes out very clearly in any type of mandatory boater education course,” Deschenes said.

Deschenes and Jack Saunders, also with the Lake Gaston Homeowners Association, along with Rep. Michael H. Wray, D-Northampton, are lobbing for mandatory boating eduction in North Carolina.

“It affects all navigable water from the coast to the mountains, and it's very important because of safety,” Wray said.

Deschenes and Saunders say boaters should have to pass a written test before they get behind the wheel.

“It's not a big ordeal to take the course or to take the test,” Saunders added.

Some people with whom WRAL talked with said they liked the idea, but only for young boaters. Bailey Davis says experienced boaters should not be forced to take a course.

“They're the ones paying for the boat. They're the ones paying for the insurance. They're old enough to know what they're doing,” Davis said.

Twenty people were killed in boating accidents statewide last year.

Wray says he hopes state lawmakers will pass the mandatory boater safety testing in 2009.