Boating safety bill proposed in Illinois

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A new bill would require people to have a safety certificate in order to operate a boat in the state. (WLS)

There's an effort to regulate boating in Illinois. A new bill would require people to have a safety certificate in order to operate a boat in the state.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources reported 65 boating accidents last year, and among them, 14 fatalities. There's been discussion for many years about ways to make boating more safe, and now there may be action taken to ensure that boaters are more prepared.

A report of a capsized vessel brings emergency crews to 63rd Street Beach on Tuesday. The report turned out to be unfounded, but the Chicago Fire Department's Marine Unit was there as it has been hundreds of times in the last year when people in the water and boaters ran into trouble.

"If something were to happen, well, the boat can take it, the question is, can you? We don't want to have any accidents so that's why I always say the boat is as good as the skipper," said Robert Bassett, U.S. Coast Guard.

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Instructor Robert Bassett teaches safe boating classes.

"Taking the classes, you don't need a boat. You need to understand what to do before you get on the boat," said Bassett.

The US Coast Guard offers a variety of boating safety courses and recommends new boaters take safety courses and even experienced boaters take refresher courses. But as of now, all training is voluntary.

Senate Bill 3433 proposes boaters have mandatory boating safety certification to operate a vessel on Illinois waterways. It passed the Senate and could come up for a vote in the House this week.

Boaters and sailors we spoke with told ABC7 they've witnessed irresponsibly boating and extreme conditions that would test the most experienced boat operator.

"You need a driver's license before you can drive a vehicle. I don't know why you shouldn't have some certification before you operate a sailboat or a motorboat safely," said David Sturdy.

"The better prepared you are to handle the boat, the lakes, and first aid needs, all makes a lot of sense that it cannot hurt to have that training," said Bill Zeiler.

The legislation is on its third reading in the house and is expected to come up for a vote later this week. If it passes, a spokeswoman for Governor Pat Quinn says he is eager to sign this legislation into law.
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politicsboatingsafetyChicago - Jackson ParkIllinois
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