Oklahoma Highway Patrol Offers Free Boater Safety Course

This summer there have been several deadly accidents on area lakes. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol's Marine Enforcement Section wants to keep that number at zero every year.

Every month of the year they offer a free boater safety course. It takes six hours of your day one time. Once you pass the test and get your permit it never expires. One of the instructors of the class,Trooper Tony Richardson, says there are four things you have to have before you get behind the wheel of a boat or on personal water craft.

"You must have common sense, courtesy, maturity, and responsibility," Richardson said.

Tris Mabes brought her two daughters to the class and says she has been on the lake for years and has learned some things she didn't know.

"I have never known the rules. We looked up things online and read some stuff, but it's very valuable for me to set a good example," Mabes said.

As a parent she says this class has proven very valuable.

"It's dangerous on the lake. It's as simple as that and if they know the rules and know what they are doing then they should be safer," Mabes said.

In Oklahoma, if you are 12 to 16 years old you are required to take the class to operate water vehicles. If you under the age of 12, you can not operate any vehicle on the water. Adults who take the class usually get a break on their boat insurance. Richardson said that an insurance break shouldn't be the driving force for you to take the class.

"They have enough concern for the people that they are going to be with that they will come in here and take these classes," Trooper Richardson said.

Mabes said she sees the permit as a drivers license for a boat and hopes some day it will be required to have a permit to operate vessels on the water. For Trooper Richardson, it's about making Oklahoma lakes safer since he has spent the last 34 years protecting people on the water.

"The more people we can get in and use the education tool and inform them about boating laws and navigation rules and prevent boating accidents then the less we have to get in that tool box and use enforcement," Trooper Richardson said.

For more information about the free course click on the link.