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Watercraft renters now must pass a test
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Boat rental director William Archer on Thursday talks about the new boater education test, which is given online, including at one of the five iPad stations at Paradise Boat Rental at Port Royale in Gainesville. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Kile Glover Boater Education law

What happened: Kile Glover, 11, died July 6, 2012, after being struck by a personal watercraft driven by family friend Jeffrey Hubbard, who was later convicted of homicide by vessel.
What changed: As of Tuesday, anyone born on and after Jan. 1, 1998, is required to take and pass a safety education class before operating watercraft. And anyone renting a watercraft must do the same.
How to comply: For more info on where to find a class, visit the boating education section of the Department of Natural Resources website.

Just in time for the big July Fourth weekend, watercraft rental companies must require renters to get a bit of education before they hit the water.

The Kile Glover Boater Education Law, expanding boater education requirements for rental companies as well as those born after Jan. 1, 1998, goes into effect Tuesday.

Many rental shops provided some education on their own, with a push coming from insurance companies.

The Department of Natural Resources now provides a video to the shops and issues a small certificate once someone passes a short test.

“What the DNR requires is the safety video, and they have supplied some of the rental agencies with a checklist, but we actually require a test,” said William Archer, rental director for Paradise Rental Boats at Port Royale Marina in Gainesville.

The testing varies across rental facilities, with some keeping the original DNR checklist and others administering multiple-choice tests.

“We created our test. It’s on our website, and we recommend that they do that portion of the training at home, but we also have iPads on site at each of our locations. It’s about a 30-minute process,” Archer said.

Paradise Rental has required renter’s education for the past three years and made its test mandatory at the beginning of this year.

“We just started doing the test last summer and the response has been a lot more welcoming than we expected,” Archer said. “When we started the testing, it was optional. We just wanted to introduce it because we knew the DNR thing was coming.”

Gainesville Marina is another rental shop that began providing the education early.

“We have been doing this since 2013,” said CJ Denning of Gainesville Marina. “We had our own video, and we gave them a check sheet that they had to sign off on.”

According to the new law, after watching training videos, renters take a test about 30 questions long that must be passed with an 80 percent or higher score to get their certificate. The certificate must be kept on the captain of the boat at all times and lasts for six months.

With these new safety measures, Nick Baggett from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said he hopes incidents will be reduced.

“Anytime a boating safety law comes into effect to encourage water safety, we’re all for it,” he said. “We’re hoping people will pay attention to these laws. That they will get the training they need, get the certification they need, and use common sense.”