Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Safety takes center stage ahead of summer boating season

Wear it TN

By Tamas Mondovics

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer as well as the time for millions of boaters to enjoy local lakes, rivers as well as waterways across the country. Over the holiday weekend last year, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWR) reported 17 boating under the influence (BUI) arrests. Officers also reported one injury accident and five property damage incidents.Thus far in 2018, there have been five boating-related fatalities, four injury-accident incidents, and five property damage accidents in the state, while three of the five fatalities have involved paddle crafts.

To ensure that the summer fun does not end up in tragedy the 2018 National Safe Boating Week, May 19-25 under the direction of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency zeroed in on boating safety especially the promoting of the wear of life jackets. The initiative included The Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day on Friday, May 18 with the goal of demonstrating how easy it is to wear a life jacket, even while at work. Then on Saturday, May 19, the campaign, “Ready, Set, Wear It!” entered its ninth year in trying to bring awareness on the importance of life jacket wear by holding a world record day.

Participants have attempted to break a world record for the most life jackets worn at one time, which kicked off the start of National Safe Boating Week.
According to TWR officials, the primary goal of National Safe Boating Week is “to educate the public about the importance of safe boating practices and wearing life jackets while on the water.” For all who are or planning on cruising area waters throughout Tennessee are encouraged to remember few rules before venturing out for some summer fun. For starters, residents born after January 1, 1989, must show the TWRA-issued wallet Boating Safety Education Certificate as proof of successful completion of the TWRA Boating Safety exam.  No other certificate will be accepted as meeting the requirements of the law.
The certification is not required if there is an adult (18 years old or older) on board to take immediate control of the vessel. However, this adult, if born after January 1, 1989, must have the boating education certification.

TWRA urges all boaters to remember some of the basics:
*Have a wearable life jacket for every person onboard
*If your boat is 16 feet or longer, there must be a Type IV throwable device onboard
*Have onboard a fire extinguisher if you have enclosed fuel compartments or cabins
*Anyone under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket at all times while the boat is underway – drifting is considered underway

Out of State Boaters born after January 1, 1989, TWRA will accept any NASBLA approved boating safety certificate. Along with the use of life jackets, TWRA wants to stress the responsible use of alcohol while boating.

“It is important to consider the effects of drinking and driving whether on water or land. In a boat on the water, the effects of alcohol increase because of external stressors such as engine vibration, wave motion, and glare from the sun,” the agency stated. “Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Tennessee.”

According to TWRA a few tips to be well prepared for the season are:
How do I replace my lost or stolen boating safety card?
If your boating safety card is lost or stolen, you may purchase a Type 605 license from a license agent for $5.00. The duplicate card will be mailed approximately 2 weeks from purchase date.
How do I take the exam?
First, you must be at least 12
years old to take the exam. After studying the boating safety material, you must first purchase, for $10.00, a Type 600 boating safety exam permit from any business (license agent) that sells hunting and fishing licenses. If your parents or someone else purchase the permit for you to take the exam, they must give your information to the sales agent.
Otherwise, the proper information will not match, and the boating safety certificate will not be  issued.
The receipt of this transaction is your “ticket” to take the exam. Try not to lose this receipt, it will admit you to an exam location and will also serve as a temporary certificate if you pass the exam.
If you do not pass the exam, this receipt/”ticket” can continue to be used to take the exam as many times as it takes to pass. Try not to lose it!

How do I study?
There are many avenues to study:
• Call (615) 781-6682, email: [email protected] or write to Boating Division, TWRA, PO Box 40747, Nashville, TN 37204 and have study materials sent to you (free) and self-study.
• Log onto and study online by clicking “Study Guide” at the top of the page.
• Boating Safety classes are offered throughout the state.
How long does it take to complete the exam?
Allow approximately one hour for taking the exam.
How long will it take to receive my wallet card?
When you pass the exam, you will receive your wallet card in the mail within a few weeks.

Renters of Watercraft
People who rent any watercraft are exempt from having the certification. The renter is determined by the name that appears on the rental agreement. To take the exam only, residents should bring Social Security Number, black pen, and type 600 Boating Safety Exam Permit to testing locations. Students can go to any county to take the class or exam. The Johnson County Boating Class and exam facility are located at the Mountain City Library. By appointment only – (423) 727-6544