Boaters age limit should be upped

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Our View

There are too many children on personla watercraft who have neither the skill nror the judgement to operate them safely.

Would any right-minded person allow a child, someone not who has not even reached their teenage years, to get behind the wheel of a car and drive that car out onto a busy highway?

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Clearly the answer is no.

A right-minded person wouldn’t allow that to happen because it puts people in danger. It would put the underage driver of the vehicle in danger, and it would put any other driver on that same road in danger.

The foolishness of putting a vehicle, one that weighs thousands of pounds and is powered by an engine capable of moving that car at great speed, in the hands of a child who has neither the skills nor the judgment to drive it is obvious.

So it begs the question of why Alabama allows children to drive boats that are just as powerful, just as dangerous.

This week the Alabama House of Representatives voted 83-0 to raise from 12 years old to 14 years old the minimum age to operate a boat or personal watercraft without an accompanying adult who has a boating license.

The House didn’t go far enough. Yes, a 14-year-old is older than a 12-year-old, but still not old enough to handle the responsibility that comes with piloting a boat or personal watercraft.

So why didn’t the House go further?

In the debate about the bill, one representative said that he wished the age limit was higher than 14 but "you get into an arena where you make parents mad" if you go higher than 14.

Let parents get mad. It’s a small price to pay for saving lives, which is what this bill is actually about.

The fact is there are too many children on personal watercraft who have neither the skill nor the judgment to operate them safely. One hopes the members of the Alabama Senate will do the right thing and raise the age limit to at least 15.

– Andalusia Star News


Contact Us

Letters: Send your commentary to the Troy Messenger.

News tips: Have a story or tip for our staff?

Subscribe: Get the Troy Messenger delivered to your door or mailbox.