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Water Safety council wants boater competence tests

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Bermuda Road Safety Council chairman Dennis Lister III (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Water Safety Council has called for mandatory competence tests for boaters.

And the Road Safety Council wants to see the same regulations that govern auxiliary cycles applied to electric pedal cycles, saying riders can reach speeds of 50kph and are not required to wear helmets.

The new measures were proposed at a Ministry of Transport press conference today.

Michael Weeks, chairman of the Water Safety Council, said that the body wants mandatory water competency tests for boaters.

The former Cabinet Minister said Bermuda residents can buy and operate a boat without any knowledge of marine safety, and this has caused incidents resulting in serious injury or death.

He said: “Many other coastal jurisdictions require recreational boaters to have operating licences.

“Data has proven a reduced amount of marine incidents with the implementation of a competence licence.

“Boating is a fun activity for locals and visitors to the island, and having a competent boating operator will help to lower the amount of marine incidents and ensure marine safety for everyone.”

Dennis Lister III, chairman of the Road Safety Council, said the body will recommend to the Ministry of Transport that electrically-assisted pedal cycles should be insured and licensed, and riders required to wear helmets.

The government MP said that in the last two years the RSC had noticed an increase in the number of the devices and some residents have adopted them as their primary means of transportation.

He said: “There is no danger in using them in itself, however these cycles can get up to speeds of 50kph, which makes it a danger if not used properly and safely.”

Mr Lister added: “We understand that this will upset some owners, but we must put safety before convenience.

“If a rider is travelling on an electrically-assisted pedal cycle at a speed of 40kph without a helmet, they are exposing themselves to a serious head injury if they were to be involved in a collision.”

Both Mr Weeks and Mr Lister urged the public to take care over the holiday season and to avoid operating any vehicle after drinking.

Mr Lister said: “When you plan to go for a drink, first have a plan about how to get home safely.

“There are other options to get home – taxis, minibus’, close friends or relatives or the Home Safe programme. Planning to get home by one of these means is helping to make our roads safer by eliminating risk.”

He also urged pedestrians and cyclists to take actions to avoid collisions, such as wearing reflective gear at night to improve visibility.

•Mr Weeks urged boaters to use good judgment on the water, particularly over the holiday season.

He said: “It is a fact that alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination.

“Please be respectful of other water users and, for those who will be travelling the water at night, please remember to go slow. Be keen, be seen, keep a look out and be bright.”

Competence Tests

Canada has had boater competence tests for some years and you can see details here

To get a pleasure craft operator’s card (PCOC), boaters must know:

• Minimum safety equipment requirements required on board your boat;

• The Canadian Buoy system;

• How to share waterways;

• All pertinent regulations; and

• How to respond in an emergency situation.

Bermuda Water Safety Council chairperson Michael Weeks (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published December 16, 2020 at 2:03 pm (Updated December 16, 2020 at 3:53 pm)

Water Safety council wants boater competence tests

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