No age limit on safe boater education

Power for Progress…
A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority

From the classroom to the water … GRDA’s annual boater safety education courses have benefited many young boaters who come to enjoy the waters of Grand and Hudson lakes. However, the course can benefit for Mom and Dad too.

From the classroom to the water … GRDA’s annual boater safety education courses have benefited many young boaters who come to enjoy the waters of Grand and Hudson lakes. However, the course can benefit for Mom and Dad too.

Grand River Dam Authority Police Officer Jason Littlefield has spent a substantial amount of time in the classroom the last few months. As an instructor for the free Kyle Williams Safe Boating Courses offered by GRDA, Littlefield teaches young boaters the important safety information they need to know before operating certain types of boats on Oklahoma waters. When the day-long course is finished, those boaters receive their certification and leave with what is hopefully a new appreciation for safe boating.

The course was named after a 12-year old Oklahoma boy who was killed in a jet ski accident on Lake Eufaula in 2004. To help prevent such tragedies in the future, his family pushed for a law requiring boater education for teens. The Kyle Williams Safe Boating Act became law in 2007. The law prohibits children between the ages of 12 and 16 years of age; without a valid driver’s license, from operating any vessel powered by a motor of more than 10 horsepower, or sailing vessel 16 feet or longer, without first completing these state approved boater safety courses.

Yet, while the benefits of the course are certainly evident for young boaters, Littlefield says even older boaters can benefit from time spent in the classroom.

“It’s a really good course,” said Littlefield. “I think it has something for everybody; no matter how old you are. It is something that will benefit you one way or another.”

While young boaters are required to complete the certification, here are a few reasons Mom and Dad should stick around for the course too.

1) A possible insurance benefit: According to Littlefield, adult boaters who complete a safe boating course may actually be eligible for an insurance discount. Check with your provider to see if that may be an option for you.

2) There is always something new to learn: During the courses taught by GRDA, not only is general boater safety covered but Littlefield said the rules specific to Grand and Hudson are also part of the discussion. That could be helpful to seasoned boaters who are new to these lakes.

3) Set an example: When Mom and/or Dad stay for the course too, it helps send a message to your children that proper boating safety is important for the entire family. That is a message that can be sustained for many years, and generations to come.

According to Littlefield, the lessons learned in the classroom have been translated to the lakes in recent years, and the GRDA Police continue to see the signs of safe, educated boaters on the waters. However, the courses are free and it is never a bad idea to get a safety refresher from time to time.

Several courses have already been held this year, but GRDA has another Kyle Williams Safe Boating Course scheduled for Saturday, July 27. For more information, or to register, contact GRDA Lake Relations Coordinator Lori Starks at 918 256 0644. If possible, please register for the course at least a week before the scheduled date.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. GRDA’s low-cost, reliable power touches 75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to Oklahoma taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir.

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