Despite the Commonwealth’s reputation for strong government regulation, boating in Massachusetts appears to function a little more like the Wild West. Anyone 16 or older can operate a boat without completing even a basic safety course, according to a recent article in the Boston Globe. This makes Massachusetts somewhat of an outlier in the region, as neighboring states Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont all require motorboat pilots to have a safe boating certificate.
Each year, thousands of boating accidents kill hundreds of people across the United States. In 2022, the U.S. Coast Guard counted 4,040 accidents, 2,222 non-fatal injuries, and 636 deaths. Although this marks a decrease from 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 saw a surge in boat sales and a drop in boater education, meaning many untrained boaters may still be on the water. After crashes this summer caused the death of a Boy Scout from Lexington and a teenage girl on Cape Cod, boating safety is receiving renewed attention in Massachusetts.