A bill in the Arizona legislature could lead to watercraft safety courses for all Arizona boaters, as a requirement for boating registration.
The legislation would allow the Arizona Game and Fish Commission to develop a basic training course on safety and legal regulations for boaters throughout the state. The proposed law follows a similar measure in California, where such courses have been required for all boaters since last January.
The course may be designed as a training video of no longer than 30 minutes, under the legislation, or a written course available online or in person. A written test of no longer than two pages would also be required, if such a course is created. Taking the course could become a requirement for boater registration in the state of Arizona, if the law is passed.
House Bill 2886 was read by the legislature last Wednesday. The bill would add two other new provisions to Arizona statutes relating to boating and watersports.
Additional new provisions would require boat rental companies to purchase insurance against possible accidents or injury that occur under their respective rental agreements.
Rental companies will be required to purchase liability insurance for any motorized watercraft with more than 50 horsepower, and will require insurance for any personal watercraft. Such liability would be in effect at any time the rented watercraft is operated in public waterways throughout Arizona.
Rental companies would need to purchase at least $25,000 in coverage for bodily injury or death of one person in the event of an accident, and $50,000 in coverage per two or more people involved in any single accident. Rental companies would also have to purchase $65,000 in combined coverage for bodily injury, death or property damage in the event of an accident.
If the Arizona Game and Fish Commission chooses to develop a boating safety course under the new legislation, customers will be required to pass the course before a rental can take place.
The legislation would also regulate tubing, wake-surfing or wake-jumping if using a personal watercraft.
It will be unlawful for a person to use skis, surfboard, inflatable tube or similar device within 60 feet of a watercraft while traveling into that watercraft’s wake — and may not come closer to a watercraft than 60 feet any watercraft that is towing it, unless both are traveling at wakeless speeds. Turning or maneuvering quickly while using skis, surfboard or an inflatable tube will also be prohibited, unless such is necessary to avoid a collision.
HB 2886 received its second reading in the legislature last Thursday. It has since been assigned to the House Natural Resources, Energy and Water committee.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department currently offers an optional boating safety course under the U.S. Coast Guard. Game and Fish officials could not say as of Thursday whether the agency planned to create its own mandatory course for Arizona residents.