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Boat renters not required to take online boater safety test | News

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Boat renters not required to take online boater safety test
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LAS VEGAS -- Boat rentals are expected to rise as temperatures get hotter, which means more boaters on Lake Mead.

Since 2003, people operating their own boats are required to have an education card. An online test must be passed in order to get the card. Nevada residents born in 1983, or after, have to take the test, but people renting boats don't have to.

Gail Kaiser, manager of the Las Vegas Boat Harbor, explains that renters are only required to watch a 10 minute safety video before they can head out on the lake. She says renters vary from highly qualified boaters, to ones with no experience at all.

"I've boated before," said one boat renter. "I think the big thing the video taught me was to wait the 10 seconds after you turn off the motor because the propeller will still be spinning."

Kaiser has worked at the Las Vegas Boat Harbor on Lake Mead for over 20 years. She says year-after-year, boats are returned banged up and most accidents happen within big groups renting multiple boats.

She recalled one close call a few weeks ago.

"Each one thought the other one was going to turn opposite directions," said Kaiser. "They were playing games. Exactly what they were told not to do; exactly what the movie says not to do."

The video covers things like required safety equipment checks, emergency procedures and right of way.

"If you are going head-to-head with a boat do you turn left or right?" asked a renter from Chicago. "It's important to know what you are supposed to do."

Last year there were dozens of boating accidents on Lake Mead. Statistics from the Coast Guard show 80 percent of people involved in boating accidents have never taken a formal class.

Kaiser admits it's better for business to be able to rent to anyone, but said she would support stricter rules.

"My grandkids are here now, so we are on the water with everybody else. So boater safety is a number one issue with us," she said.

Game wardens patrol Lake Mead to make sure boaters have the required boater education card.

The ticket for operating without a card is $115.

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