Boat Safety: Why to Get Certified

Boat Safety: Why to Get Certified

Father and daughter on a boat.

There are plenty of good reasons to be an educated boat operator. Chief among them: safety. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 77 percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction.

The good news, though, is that saving lives and reducing injuries can be as easy as taking a boater safety course. That way, you familiarize yourself with operation basics and etiquette, as well as state and federal waterway rules.

TRUE or FALSE: All vessels must have enough accessible life jackets for every child and adult on board.

ANSWER: True. Life jacket use could prevent more than 80 percent of boating fatalities.


TRUE or FALSE: Excessive speed and alcohol use are the top two contributing factors of boating accidents.

ANSWER: False. The top two known factors are operator inattention and operator inexperience. Excessive speed ranks No. 4, and alcohol use is No. 6. Obey all speed limits and never drive under the influence.


TRUE or FALSE: When two motorized vessels look to cross in the water, the boat that has the other on its starboard (aka right) side must give way. 

ANSWER: True. This “give-way vessel” should slow down and/or cross behind the “stand-on vessel.”


TRUE or FALSE: Carbon monoxide poisoning is only a problem on boats with enclosed passenger areas.

ANSWER: False. Backdrafts, other boats and blocked exhaust outlets can cause carbon monoxide accumulation even on open vessels.

Since knowing basics like these is the key to safe waterways, some states may require completion of a boat safety course. Boat Ed® offers courses and tests that are recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard, approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators and meet your state’s certification standards. See the state-by-state guide at

The courses may also qualify you for a 10 percent discount on your State Farm® boat insurance. To earn it, all the boat’s operators must complete your state’s Boat Ed or other qualifying course, online or in person.

For more information about how to qualify for the boat insurance discount, contact your State Farm agent.


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