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Section 5

2004-2005 New Laws and Enhancements

A. New Laws
Carbon Monoxide
As of January 1, 2005, California law prohibits operating a vessel’s motor while a person is teak surfing, platform dragging, or bodysurfing behind the vessel. “Teak surfing” or “platform dragging,” is a nationwide fad that involves pulling a person through the boat’s wake while the person holds on to the back of the boat. The law imposes a fine of up to $100 on anyone who operates a vessel’s engine while a person is holding on to the swim platform, swim ladder, or swim step on a boat. The law provides exceptions for briefly assisting with docking or departure, entering or exiting the vessel, or participating in law enforcement or emergency rescue activity. 

B. Program Enhancements
Life Jacket Use

  • The Department continues the Life Jacket Loan Program aimed at increasing the use of life jackets by everyone in the community planning a boating or other waterside activity. The life jacket loan program promotes the use of life jackets by offering free short term life jacket use for the public. The Department has partnered with fire stations in the Greater Sacramento area to house and check out life jackets to the public. Fire stations have proved to be convenient locations where residents can go to borrow life jackets. In 2004, an additional fire district in El Dorado County and several retail locations in Humboldt County joined the program. A current list of loan locations can be found on the DBW website at www.dbw.ca.gov/lifejacket.asp.
  • The Department continues its T-Shirt Program, aimed at increasing the use of life jackets by children. Marine enforcement units, U.S. Coast Guard Stations, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotillas, and U.S. Power Squadrons are supplied with T-shirts for children. The shirts are used to reward children under the age of 13 found wearing their life jacket while boating. This popular program recognizes safe behavior and reinforces continued use of life jackets by this target group.
  • The Department continues a radio ad campaign informing boaters of laws requiring that persons aboard PWC, persons towed behind boats and children under 13 on vessels 26 feet or less to wear life jackets. This safety message is being aired on radio stations throughout California and targets boaters in areas where high numbers of accidents occur.
  • The Department continues placing billboards in areas where accidents are most prevalent and has added to this outreach effort by placing safety messages on posters and refuse barrels at marinas. These Road Signs for the Waterways, increase boating safety awareness throughout the State.
  • The Department continues promoting the use of life jackets at safety fairs and boat shows throughout the state, through the annual Safe and Wise Water Ways poster contest for children, and at National Safe Boating Week events. In 2004, the Department continued airing the 30-second public service announcement for television produced by KCRA/KQCA. The PSA promotes safe boating and taking a boating safety course to the viewing audience in Northern California.
  • In 2004, the Department partnered with Infinity Broadcasting, Radio Disney, Nor Cal Water, and Shell gas stations to remind their collective clients in Northern California to “Get Hooked on H2O” and Boat Smart from the Start…Wear Your Life Jacket. An estimated 12 million impressions were made on clients as the messages traveled the airwaves and were viewed at purchase points.

Personal Watercraft

  • The Department distributes a short course on PWC operation and safe boat handling that was developed in cooperation with the California State Sheriff’s Association. The course is also available online at www.dbw.ca.gov/PWCOnline/index.html. The course is intended for PWC operators of all ages and is available to the general public. It is designed so that it can easily be incorporated into existing safety programs offered by organizations such as the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the U.S. Power Squadrons, marine law enforcement agencies, and aquatic centers. There is a 20-question exam at the end of the booklet to self-test on the material covered. The promotion of safe operation of PWC is a component of the Department’s outdoor media campaign. This basic course does not earn a certificate, but is simply a tool to introduce new PWC operators to laws, requirements, and important safety issues associated with their vessels. Those who complete the quiz online are rewarded with access to some boating-themed screensavers.
  • The Department continues to offer a PWC-handling course specifically for law enforcement. This course has been P.O.S.T.-certified.
  • The Department continues a radio ad campaign informing boaters of the new laws requiring that persons aboard PWC wear life jackets. This safety message is being aired on radio stations throughout California and targets boaters in high accident areas.

Youth Operator Safety

  • The AquaSMART Boating program for high school students continues to be distributed to schools throughout California. This course incorporates key safety concerns identified by accident statistics. Four types of boating are addressed: personal watercraft, power boating, sailing, and paddling. The course is available to schools, aquatic centers, and youth organizations.
  • The curriculum for youth programs includes information on the dangers of alcohol and drug use, especially when boating. Zero tolerance is emphasized for anyone engaged in aquatic recreation.


  • The Department’s radio campaign confronted the dangers of drinking alcohol while boating by creating Bev Lite. This radio message leads the listener through the false bravado and subsequent consequences of drinking alcohol while boating. It aired on radio stations throughout California and targeted boaters in areas with the highest accident rates.
  • The Department continues to notify law enforcement agencies statewide about alcohol-related fatalities and encourage them to strengthen their educational and enforcement efforts in this area. The Department reinforces this message at all of its law enforcement training classes.
  • The Department’s Get H2Ooked on Sober Boating T-Shirt promotion continued at boat shows and other outreach venues throughout the state.

Carbon Monoxide Education

  • In 2004, the Department’s safety awareness campaign created and introduced CO Kills, a radio message on the prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning while boating. The message aired statewide and foretold of the new anti-“teak surfing” law.
  • In 2004, the Department distributed 25,000 brochures to educate boaters of the dangers of marine carbon monoxide poisoning. It also includes warning stickers for a boat’s helm and transom. The brochure is distributed at boat shows, safety fairs, and other events and is also available on the Department’s Website as part of a carbon monoxide information Webpage.
  • The Department is producing both a TV and a radio PSA to increase awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • The Department is improving the collection of carbon monoxide boating accident data by increasing training to law enforcement officers who investigate accidents.
    Improved Internet Access
  • The AquaSMART Internet education pages www.dbw.ca.gov/AquaSMART supplement the Department’s AquaSMART curriculum series. The design is bright and content addresses boating safety in a fun manner, as the web page is targeted primarily at children exposed to the AquaSMART curriculum series. The secondary audience includes teachers, parents, and other boaters. A link to the Department’s homepage is provided for persons seeking more detailed boating safety information.
  • The Department experienced continued success with its web page www.BoatSmarter.com. This web page is publicized through the Department’s radio and outdoor media campaign and is easy to remember. Visitors to the site can click on “road sign” billboards and other icons for more information on boating safety and education programs.

C. Other Safety Enhancements

  • In 2004, the Department partnered with Infinity Broadcasting, Radio Disney, Nor Cal (water), and Shell Oil to remind their collective clients/audiences in Northern California to Get Hooked on H2O and Boat Smart from the Start…Wear Your Life Jacket. During the months of May through September, radio stations KNCI and KIID ran radio announcements over three-week spans for the major holidays of Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. These announcements proclaimed boating safety messages and directed listeners to Shell stations to obtain safety literature and purchase Nor Cal water. Three live remote broadcasts were sponsored by the Department and produced by KNCI to take boating material to the public and offer a life jacket trade-in – old for new. Shell stations in the Greater Sacramento area offered the pamphlet, ABC’s of California Boating Law, to their customers and hosted the live remote broadcasts. An estimated 30 million message impressions were made in this partnership via the airwaves and were viewed at purchase points.
  • In 2004 the Department sponsored 80 AquaSMART Live performances. The traveling puppet show is hosted by Splasher the Frog, mascot of the AquaSMART program. AquaSMART Live has two programs for grades K-3 and 4-6. The K-3 program uses stunt dummies to demonstrate to the children what can happen when you do not play safe in and around the water. The 4-6 program is a game show format where two teams compete for prizes while learning how to stay safe in and around the water.
  • To further enhance river safety, the Department offers an assortment of river guides to California rivers that have been designated as boating trails. The Department continues to warn boaters about hazardous water conditions on California’s rivers, especially during spring and early summer when water levels are high from snow pack run-off.
  • The Department’s new water skiing safety video is now in distribution. The updated version includes not only traditional water skiing activities, but also wake boarding, knee boarding, inner tubing, and air chair activities.
  • The Department continues outreach efforts to anglers by placing safety articles and messages in fishing publications throughout the state.
  • The Law Enforcement Unit continues to conduct the Accident Reconstruction Course on the water, providing staged accidents for reconstruction by students. Many law enforcement officers believe this course helps them reconstruct accidents more accurately.
  • A television PSA on boating and alcohol was distributed to TV stations throughout the state.

Spanish Outreach Campaign
In order to better serve California’s growing Spanish-speaking population, the Department continues to distribute Spanish-language boating and water safety resources. Boaters can order copies of Spanish translations of selected Department publications, or view and download them on Boating and Waterways’ new Spanish Webpage, at www.dbw.ca.gov/Espanol.

Life Jacket Trade-In
The life jacket trade-in program continued in grander scope for National Safe Boating week of 2004. The Department partnered with Radio Disney, Infinity Broadcasting and nine Sam’s Club stores statewide to host consecutive trade-ins. Radio Disney and Infinity Broadcasting aired promotion for the events on their family of stations and held live remote broadcasts at five of the stores during the event.

Life jackets were offered free to the first 50 persons at each store who brought in their old deteriorated life vests during a two-hour window. Sam’s Club donated life jackets at many participating locations for the event. Children’s life jackets were obtained at discounted rates from Stearns and FINIS. Safety experts at each location examined the life jackets brought in to determine if they were serviceable or in need of replacement.

A limit of one free life jacket was allowed per family while supplies lasted. For additional requests, Sam’s Club handed out $10 discount coupons toward the purchase of a new life jacket.

Nearly 300 new life jackets were exchanged for those found to be unserviceable during these trade-in events.

Curriculum Revision
The Department continues its revision of the AquaSMART curriculum series. The curriculum for Kindergarten-Second Grade (Champion of the Waterways) was completed. AquaSMART hero Splasher the Frog guides students through the 10 AquaSMART lessons on water and boating safety.

The curriculum revision for grades 3-5 was begun and re-titled AquaSMART LIVE!
The new program takes the format of an interactive game show with three rounds of fun-filled action and two physical challenges. In combination, the components guide students through the ten AquaSMART lessons.

The program series consists of a video and teacher’s guide with reproducible student worksheets for each level. For grades K-2 and 3-5, the video is also available in Spanish along with a set of reproducible Spanish student worksheets. The teacher’s guides also contain a chart indicating how the lessons fit into the California Curriculum Standards, a recommended reading list, and a list of additional video resources.

Curriculum materials are made available to schools, youth groups, aquatic centers, and other educators at no cost. Revisions will continue through the series of three elementary school programs and high school program.

Safe Kids Coalition
The Department participates on the Greater Sacramento Safe Kids Coalition under the Drowning Prevention subcommittee. As a river city that also has a number of lakes and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in close proximity, Sacramento has a need to protect its children from drowning when boating or recreating near the water. The Department provides educational materials for outreach to the community and expertise on open water activities and incidents.

Tri-State Boating Safety Fair
In 2004 the Division of Boating and Waterways hosted a media day and safety event in partnership with the Arizona State Parks, Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Nevada Department of Wildlife. This event was named the “Tri-State Boating Safety Fair” at Lake Havasu (a multi-jurisdictional body of water). The purpose of the event was to kick-off the boating season on the Colorado River and to raise awareness among area boaters of what the Tri-State region (specifically Arizona, California and Nevada) are doing to improve boating safety throughout the Colorado River region. All communication efforts for the day focused on the dangers of negligent operation and excessive speed, alcohol abuse while boating, carbon monoxide poisoning and the importance of wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD).

Representatives from the National Safe Boating Council, the United States Coast Guard, the Power Squadrons, local law enforcement agencies and various media outlets – KFLG-FM, KLUK-FM and KNKK-FM were on hand to help promote the Safety Fair. Six different radio outlets aired 35 promotional announcements and 23 recorded as well as live call-ins the day of the event. Boating Law Administrators from California and Arizona along with department educational and safety experts conducted on-air interviews with radio personalities. A news story, recorded with the Arizona public relations department, ran on six Mojave stations prior to the event. Lastly, a print ad was placed in the April edition of the On the Water magazine and News-Herald highlighting the Tri-State Fair.

Boating safety bags were handed out at the front gate of the event. Items included educational material from the three states. A Tri-State brochure, listing a couple of boating laws from the three states, was produced to enhance the efforts of the Tri-State boating educational campaign.

Division of Boating and Water Ways | 2004 California Boating Safety Report