We Texans love our boats, which is only natural living in a state with a long coastline, numerous lakes, rivers, and big bays. According to recent counts, over 580,000 boaters take to Texas waters each year. So, with numbers like these, it's only natural that we have laws in place to ensure the safety of all.
Getting the Right Start
Texas state law now requires anyone who was born on or after September 1, 1993 to take a Boater Education Certification Course before operating a personal watercraft, power boat, or sailboat over 14 feet in length. Furthermore, operators must carry a boater education card for presentation should an enforcement agent ask to see it, or risk incurring a fine. Classes are given by the U.S. Power Squadron, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, as well as trained volunteer instructors, and game wardens.
What is a Personal Watercraft and What the Law Requires
Personal watercraft (PWC) are defined as powerboats designed to be operated by one or more persons either standing, kneeling, or sitting on the vessel as opposed to inside its hull. This class of vessels includes jet skis and wet bikes. PWCs are only allowed on the water during daylight hours (sunrise to sunset) and are bound to follow the same safety regulations as those at the controls of powerboats propelled by motors of 15 hp or more. These include:
- Every occupant must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved personal floatation device (PFD). Inflatable life jackets are not approved. If a PWC or a powerboat is towing a water skier, that person is considered as being an occupant.
- Children under the age of 13 may not operate a PWC or powerboat unless supervised by someone over the age of 18 who can lawfully operate it.
- Never come within 50' of other PWCs, motorboats, platforms, swimmers, or the shore.
- Maintaining speeds limited to those that allow stopping within a safe distance of any of the above.
- Avoiding creating hazardous wakes or washes.
Boating While Intoxicated BWI
While the open container law, which forbids the presence of open containers of alcoholic in the passenger areas of motor vehicles, does not apply to motorboats, anyone arrested for being intoxicated while at the controls of any watercraft with a motor of 50 HP or more will have his or her license automatically suspended.
Despite Texas boating safety laws, the state does not require boat owners to carry minimum levels of insurance, but this doesn't mean it's not needed, as there is always the danger of personal as well as property accidents occurring. While many Texas boat owners depend on home insurance policies that extend to boating accidents, most will only pay a limited amount and does not include all possible scenarios.
However, the biggest danger in depending on home insurance is that it does not include liability for injuries incurred during a boating accident. Here at the Davis Insurance Group, our mission is to provide you with attentive customer service and practical advice about all your insurance needs. As an independent full-service insurance agency, you can depend on us to consult with our network of reputable insurance companies to secure the boat insurance policy that best suits your situation. So don't wait for an accident on the water, give us a call, or come in and visit us. We serve Plano, Allen, McKinley, and other surrounding areas.