Reporter: Parker Slaybaugh
Moneta, VA - Summertime is a popular time to go boating on Smith Mountain Lake, but new boating laws could get you in some trouble if you're not careful.
There has been a lot of confusion over the new boater laws that have been phased in over the past few years and will continue to be phased in over the next few years. If you want to operate a jet ski you must obtain a boaters license, but there are exceptions when you rent from a licensed rental company, those exceptions are only good during the time of your rental.
In 2009, Virginia began regulating the requirements to operate a jet ski.
"There is a lot of misconceptions about the new law," said Richard Phillips, manager of Parrot Cove Boat Rentals.
Phillips says these misconceptions may have cost him some business, and also says you can rent a jet ski even if you haven't taken a Boaters Safety Course.
"The state has given us a video course which we show for anyone that doesn't have a safe boating course," said Philips.
This video course is only good for the day of your rental, and that's where Josh Baggett says many customers get confused.
"They ask us 'why did we have to do that if it's not going to cover us for the rest of our lives or anytime we come out on the lake," said Baggett, who is a Dock Hand at Parrot Cove.
As of July 1st of this year, all operators regardless of age must take a Boaters Safety Course to operate a personal jet ski, and anyone under the age of 30 must take a course to operate a motor boat, pontoons or any type of fishing boat with a motor fall under this category. Motorboat regulations will continue to change every July until 2016.
These laws can be hard to keep track of, and that's why Phillips says your best bet is to just take an approved safety course.
"People need to know just like when you're driving your car what side of the road you need to be on or what side of the channel you need to be on they need to know how to read the markers," said Phillips.
Phillips also says since these new laws have begun taking effect the numbers of accidents on Smith Mountain Lake have gone down. If you would like a list of where you can take an approved Boaters Safety Course you can visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries web site.