Safe Boating Practices

Boaters must exercise their right to use and enjoy US waterways by taking precautions to share the water safely with others. All boaters are responsible for maintaining proficiency and situational awareness at all times. Also, boaters must take all precautions to ensure everyone on board, and anyone who comes into contact with their boat is safe. 

Most reported boating accidents in the United States involve factors within the boater’s control. 

The most common factors are:

  • Careless boat operation
  • Operator inexperience
  • High travel speeds
  • Operator distraction
  • The movement of passengers on board the boat

Boaters should take the following measures to prevent such accidents:

  • Obtain a certificate of completion in boating safety
  • Understanding the specific characteristics of their boat
  • Assure that all safety equipment is in good working order and that the boat is in good operating condition 
  • Stay within a safe speed limit at all times
  • Observe environmental hazards such as changing weather, local hazards, and submerged obstacles
  • Ensure compliance with all Federal and State Laws and the navigational “Rules of the Road” 
  • Ensure that a relative or friend fully understands the location and the route to the destination by preparing a float plan

chart showing safety zones for large vessel

Additionally, boaters must adhere to specific security measures prescribed by the US Homeland Security, which include staying a safe distance from military and commercial ships, staying clear of security zones, reporting suspicious behavior to authorities, and avoiding commercial port areas.



Take My Boat exam on a tablet