Presenter: Steve Hall

Commission Agenda Item No. 5
Mandatory Boater Education Program Regulations
January 1998

I. Discussion: To comply with new Parks and Wildlife Code §§31.108-31.110 (Exhibit A) enacted by the Seventy-fifth Legislature, Education and Law Enforcement Division staff reviewed revised sections regarding Personal Watercraft (§31.106) and Operation of Motorboat (§31.107), and new sections regarding a Mandatory Boater Education Program, Requirements and Exemptions (§§31.108 - 31.110), and make the recommendations found at Exhibit B.

The proposed regulations were adopted by the Regulations Committee of the Parks and Wildlife Commission on November 5, 1997 and approved to go to the Texas Register published on December 19, 1997. By December 31, 1997, one letter in general support of the regulations was received from the Boating Trades Association of Texas who was instrumental in the passage of the legislation. (Other calls and letters received after December 31, 1997 will be handled orally within this action item.)

Similar to the passage of mandatory hunter education in Texas, the new mandatory boater education program represents a significant step up from the current voluntary boater education program which began in 1977. The new program will give staff the opportunity to reach thousands of new boaters. Staff plans to use many diverse teaching methods such as home study, challenge exams and a course available over the world wide web to make it as convenient as possible for boaters to comply with the new provisions. Future generations will experience safer, more enjoyable boating despite more crowded conditions as a result of this comprehensive effort.

II. Recommendation: The staff recommends the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:

"The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts new 31 TAC §§57.701- 57.707 regarding mandatory boater education with changes to the proposed text published in the December 19, 1997, issue of the Texas Register (21 TexReg 12425)."

Attachments - 3

1. Exhibit A - HB 966 Enrolled Version
2. Exhibit B - Proposed Regulations
3. Exhibit C - Fiscal Note

(Exhibits A and C are available upon request.)

Commission Agenda Item No. 5
Exhibit B

Proposed Preamble

1. Introduction.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department proposes new §§57.701-57.707 concerning Mandatory Boater Education Program. The new law was passed in the 75th Legislature under Chapter 31 Water Safety, Parks and Wildlife Code.

Proposed new §57.701 establishes guidelines for the department to administer the mandatory boater education program. New §57.703 sets the minimum age for certification at 12 years of age. New §57.705 establishes one new exemption to certification as authorized by Parks and Wildlife Code, §31.108. New §57.707 sets an effective date of March 1, 1998.


2. Fiscal Note.

Mr. Steve Hall, Education Director, has determined that for the first five year period the rules will be in effect the cost to state government in implementing the boater education program will be $350,000 per year. There are no anticipated costs to local government.


3. Public Benefit - Cost Note.

Mr. Hall has also determined that for each of the first five years the rules as proposed are in effect:

(A) The public benefit as a result of the new rules is:

(1) greater boating safety awareness;

(2) reduced boating accidents and fatalities; and

(3) reduced water safety act violations

(B) The effect on small businesses is the potential for some individuals to be involved as agents or volunteers on behalf of the state boating safety efforts.

(C) The department has not filed a local impact statement with the Texas Workforce Commission as required by Administrative Procedures Act, §2001.022, as the agency has determined that the rule as proposed will not impact local economies.


4. Request for Public Comments.

Comments on the proposed new rules may be submitted to Steve Hall, Education Director, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744; (512) 389-4568, 1-800-792-1112, ext. 4568, or


5. Statutory Authority.

The new sections are proposed under Parks and Wildlife Code, §§31.108 -31.110, which mandate and authorize the Commission to establish a statewide boater (safety) education program.

The proposed new sections affects Parks and Wildlife Code, §§31.108 - 31.110.


§55.701. Boater Education Program

(a) All courses approved for certification and equivalency exam processes must be approved by the department using minimum national standards as means of approval.

(b) Courses and equivalency exams shall consist of the following subjects:

(1) Boats - boat uses, capacities, trailers, equipment, numbering, titling;

(2) Boating safety - accident causes, prevention and emergency procedures;

(3) Boating operation- preparation, float plans, navigation rules, navigation aids, local hazards and weather; and

(4) State laws - Texas Water Safety Act, Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) Laws, violation prevention and basic boating responsibilities.

(c) The course is successfully completed when the student:

(1) attends at least 6 hours of training;

(2) is evaluated by the instructor as acceptable in attitude, knowledge and skill; and

(3) scores a minimum of 70 percent on a course exam prescribed by the department.

(d) In lieu of a course, a person may complete an equivalency exam process consisting of a multiple-choice exam proctored by an agent appointed by the department or accessed through a department-sponsored web site.

(1) Home study and equivalency exam passage shall be set at a minimum 80 percent passing score.

(2) A person who fails the exam may retake it one time at least 24 hours after the time of first completion.

(e) The department shall:

(1) train and certify boater education instructors upon completion of an application, game warden interview and proof of student and instructor course completion;

(2) administer all records of certifications; and

(3) approve the standard form for a boater education identification to be issued to a person who successfully completes a boater education course or equivalency exam.

§55.703. Boater Education Requirements.

Minimum age for certification is 12 years of age.

§55.705. Boater Education Exemptions

In addition to those exemptions established in Parks and Wildlife Code §31.110, and authorized in §31.108 (b), persons who have successfully completed a "voluntary boater education course" previously administered or approved by the department are exempt from the requirements established in this subchapter.

§55.707. Effective Date. The effective date of this action shall be March 1, 1998.

This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency's authority to adopt.

Issued in Austin, Texas on

William D. Harvey, Ph.D.
Regulatory Coordinator
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
1-800-792-1112, extension 4642 or

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