Boating Safety Education Programs
The Safety Education Unit has two primary objectives to support the Department's mission:
To provide accessible boating safety education for youths and adults
To protect youth operators by developing and distributing boating and aquatic safety material to California schools
The Department relies on partnerships with several organizations (educational institutions, aquatic centers, and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary) to provide boating safety education. The Department provides educational institutions with free course materials on boating and aquatic safety information. College-level aquatic centers that offer on-the-water safety education are eligible for Department grants and scholarships. Last year, these partnerships provided nearly 678,000 individuals with boating safety education.
A. Educational Outreach to School-Age Children
The Department developed the AquaSMART curriculum to educate school-age children about water safety. The course is a three-part series for K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 grades. Course materials cover a variety of topics surrounding boating and aquatic safety. Nearly 500,000 elementary school students benefited from the AquaSMART education programs in 1998.
The newly-released AquaSMART Boating program for high school students incorporates key safety concerns identified by accident statistics. Four types of boating are addressed: personal watercraft, powerboating, sailing, and paddling. The course is available to schools, aquatic centers and youth organizations. In 1998, 25,000 high school students were educated using the U.S. Coast Guard's Boating Safely program.
The Department's sixth annual poster contest, Safe and Wise Water Ways,
was expanded to include middle school students in 1998. Students in the K-8 grade levels
are invited to submit original artwork depicting aquatic and boating safety themes. One winner
from each grade level is selected and featured on the Department's annual calendar poster.
Corporate sponsors contribute to the success of this program by providing awards for the
winners. The nearly 6,000 participating students become water wise and help others stay
safe by sharing their safety lessons in the form of art.
The Department loans two interactive robotic boats, SeaMore and Sea Lily, to organizations and law enforcement agencies. The robots communicate boating safety information to children.
B. Educational Outreach to the General Public Aquatic Center Grant Program
The Department provides grant monies to aquatic centers throughout the state to enhance their programs. Grants can be used either for scholarships or for the purchase of equipment to be used in boating and education classes. This grant program allows the Department to increase the number of boaters who receive hands-on boating safety training.
Aquatic centers are operated by universities, cities, counties, and nonprofit organizations, and provide on-the-water boating safety education in kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, power boating, sailing, windsurfing, and personal watercraft operation. These programs target university students, the general public, persons with disabilities, and disadvantaged youths. The individuals who run these programs share not only safety skills with the students, but also their enthusiasm for boating.
During the 1997/98 fiscal year, the Department allocated $590,000 in grants to 32 aquatic centers, which then provided 120,000 individuals with hands-on aquatic and boating education.
The education unit also advertises safety messages through billboard campaigns. The Department uses permanent and mobile billboards on key waterways to promote boating safety throughout the boating season and during holiday weekends.
Radio Message Campaign
In conjunction with the Department's billboard campaign, the Department developed a statewide radio campaign. This boating safety radio campaign highlights the importance of wearing a life jacket while boating and of the dangers of drinking alcohol while boating. The campaign runs from mid-May through October and targets California's top ten boating accident areas. Thirty radio stations across the state air safety messages reminding boaters to Boat Smart from the Start, by wearing life jackets and not drinking while boating.
Home Study Course
The Department provides a 64-page booklet to the public called the California Boating Safety Course. This course is designed for home study, allowing readers to progress at their own pace. This comprehensive course covers state and federal boating law, rules of the road, boat handling, required equipment, navigational aids, and other topics. The course contains an optional exam that, once completed, can be forwarded to the Department for grading. Those who successfully complete the course are awarded with certificates that are recognized by many insurance companies for discounts on boating insurance. In 1998, 27,000 Home Study Education Course materials were distributed to the general public.
National Safe Boating Week
Each year, the President and the Governor proclaim the week before Memorial Day as National Safe Boating Week. The Department organizes a number of boating safety events during this week designed not only to promote safe boating, but also to promote the fun of boating. Activities featured during this week include:
Boating fairs featuring contests
Promotional product giveaways
Highlights of annual boating accident statistics
News releases featuring boating safety tips
Interviews with the press
C. Public Information Education Through Pamphlets
In 1998, the Department distributed 1.2 million copies of boating safety literature to the public. The Department's public information unit develops and distributes nearly 50 different boating safety publications. The publications cover a variety of topics\ emphasizing boating safety on California waterways. Materials focus on subjects such as key safety issues for individual waterways, required equipment, and operational laws. The unit mails these publications directly to individuals and provides various organizations with materials for distribution. Department representatives also attend numerous safety fairs and boat shows, distributing literature and answering questions. Currently, the Department of Motor Vehicles mails safety brochures with each new vessel registration and each renewal.
D. Abandoned Watercraft Removal Program
As part of its commitment to provide clean, safe and enjoyable recreational boating
in California, the Department administers a program for removal of abandoned watercraft
and substantial navigational hazards from California navigable waterways. Specifically,
grant funds can be used by public agencies for the removal, storage and/or disposal of
these navigational hazards. In 1998, the Department granted 8 public agencies $343,200
to remove 40 abandoned vessels and 30 other substantial hazards to navigation.
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