An estimated 100 million Americans go boating each year. In 2020, the Coast Guard counted 5,265 accidents that involved 767 deaths and 3,191 injuries. Compared to 2019, the number of accidents increased 26.3%, the number of deaths increased 25.1%, and the number of injuries increased 24.7%. Where the cause of death was known, 75% of fatal boating accident victims in 2020 drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 86% were not wearing a lifejacket. Where instruction was known, 77% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator did not receive boating safety instruction. Only 12% percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received a nationally-approved boating safety education certificate. Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed, and machinery failure rank as the top five primary contributing factors in boating accidents. (

Do you consider yourself a competent boater?

You are headed toward open water and we see only one green buoy ahead, would you keep the buoy on your right side or keep the buoy on your left side? You are boating at night and you see a red and white light, would you maintain your current speed or slow down?

Georgia Boating Laws require all persons born on or after January 1, 1998, that operate any motorized vessel on the waters of the state must have completed a boat education course approved by the department prior to such operation. Even if you are of the age that you are not required to take the course, you should at least review the Georgia boating laws and responsibilities. A person is exempt if he or she is:

  • a person licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard as a master of a vessel;
  • a person operating on a private lake or pond;
  • a non-resident who has in his or her possession proof that he or she has completed a NASBLA-approved boater education course or equivalency examination from another state.

You can take a boating education course in a classroom setting with the Department of Natural Resources, the United States Coast Guard, or the United States Power Squadrons. You can also take one of our approved online courses from the service providers listed below under On-Line Courses. Some courses have an associated cost, while others may be free.

More information:

Lake Lanier, Georgia

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