THUNDER BAY – Effective April 15, all Canadian boaters will face new, stricter boating exam standards as a result of Transport Canada’s move to standardized testing. BOATsmart! Canada, the country’s largest Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) provider, supports this new learning-focused approach, which aims to increase safety on all waterways by setting a higher standard for people to obtain their Pleasure Craft Operator Card, commonly known as a boating license.
“It is our hope that by providing Canadian boaters with increased education and training before they head out on the water, we can significantly decrease the number of and severity of boating-related incidents,” says BOATsmart! Canada President, Cameron Taylor. “More than 100 boating fatalities occur each year in Canada, with another 6,000 suffering non-fatal injuries. Most of these are preventable and this move will help better prepare boaters to enjoy Canada’s waterways.”
Under the new regulations, both online and in-person exams will be increased from 36 to 50 standardized questions. In order to give a more accurate assessment of a person’s boating safety knowledge, the exam questions themselves will be based on the latest information on prevention practices and critical safety knowledge.
Boaters who choose to take their exam online (available at www.boatsmartexam.com) will also be required to complete an online study guide prior to taking the exam. The online exam will no longer have to be supervised and can be completed from any Internet connection including the candidate’s private residence.
Those who already have their BOATsmart! Card will not be affected by the new exam standards, which include all tests taken before midnight on April 15, 2011.
While operators of any motorized water vessel are required by law to have a PCOC, it is estimated that out of the four to six million power boat operators in Canada, up to three million boaters have yet to obtain a license. Failure to present a PCOC while operating a boat can result in a $250 fine.
“The key improvement in the new, online testing process is a renewed focus on education and the online process is now an enhanced learning opportunity,” says Taylor. “Boaters should complete the exam not only to avoid the fine, but to gain the knowledge it takes to keep themselves, their passengers and other boaters on the water safe.”
With the increase from 36 to 50 questions, boaters are encouraged to prepare for their exam in advance by purchasing a BOATsmart! Home Study Guide at participating Canadian Tire stores, or by taking the BOATsmart! Classroom Course, available to boaters across Canada.