Senator Jane Nelson
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
Fax (512) 463-0923

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 1997
Contact: Chris Ward
(512) 463-0112

Boat Safety Bill Passes Senate

AUSTIN - The Texas Senate today passed a boating safety bill co-sponsored by Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound. House Bill 966 requires juveniles to complete a boating safety course and enhances training for water safety enforcement officers.

Under House Bill 966, a person must be at least 13 years of age and have completed an approved boat safety course or passed an exam before operating a boat. Boat operators who are already over 13 when the law goes into effect on September 1 are exempt from this requirement. But even Texans who are not required to take a boating safety course can do so voluntarily for only $10.

"We can expect fewer accidents on Texas waterways when all boaters are aware of boating rules," Nelson commented.

Senator Nelson's district includes Lake Lewisville, one of the most heavily used lakes in Texas and the site of 34 water-related deaths over a five year period. On the Senate floor, Nelson told the story of Stephanie Booker, the young woman who was horribly maimed in a hit-and-run boat accident on Lake Lewisville in 1995. "Stephanie is living and her courage has helped inspire this legislation," Nelson said. "She has raised awareness of the need for this bill."

The bill also includes enhanced training for game wardens and peace officers in enforcing water safety. "These measures will make Texas lakes and Texas citizens safer," Nelson said.

Senator Nelson has been actively involved in lake safety issues. Following the Stephanie Booker tragedy, Nelson helped organize Lewisville Lake Watch, a community volunteer organization which promotes boating safety.

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