As of now, all people under age 59 driving a boat in the state of Washington must have a Washington Boater Education Card.
The requirement for operating a boat in Washington went into effect for people under age 50 last year, but after a phase-in period, now everyone born after Jan. 1 1955 is required to take the education course and test to receive their card.
KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson was fine when it was a matter of his young daughters having to take the test, but was upset when his number was called.
“I’ve been boating for 20 years,” said Monson. “It’s a six-hour online class. I’m not going to learn anything. I was just furious.”
Monson has been operating safely on the water for years. “Why do I need this?” he asked.
Derek Van Dyke, Boating Safety Coordinator for Washington State Parks, joined the show to discuss the new requirement.
Monson told Van Dyke it seems just like one more way the state can get money from us.
“To me, it doesn’t seem like it’s about safety, it’s just about money. It’s just about a way to get a fee imposed on us. Are you telling me that’s the wrong perspective?”
“I think that is the wrong perspective,” said Van Dyke. “I kind of felt the same way when I took the test a few years ago, before I was in this position, and I learned a lot when I took the course.”
Even if you don’t learn new things, he said it’s great for jogging your memory about things you might have forgotten.
“We did a survey last year with about 20,000 boaters and 88 percent thought the card was a worthwhile endeavor and they actually learned something or remembered something they’d forgotten over the course of their boating career,” said Van Dyke. “I guess I would say just an educator and a boater that you never stop learning on the water. There’s always something you can learn to be a safer, more courteous boater.”
Monson’s still not sure he needs the test, but he said maybe he can see where it would be a good idea for some people.
“I see some knuckleheads out on the water and if some people get safer because of it, I’d be happy for them.”