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You are looking at a preview of what’s in the timed Michigan Boat Ed Course. Feel free to look around, but you’ll need to register to begin progress toward getting your Michigan Boating Safety Certificate.

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Safely operating a boat

Every year, serious injuries and deaths occur when boat operators let go of the steering wheel or outboard steering handle while the boat is moving. A phenomenon called steering torque forces the motor to slam to the left, causing the boat to swerve sharply to the right and throwing the victim into the water.

The boat continues to travel in a circle and returns to strike the victim in the water, inflicting massive propeller wounds—thus the term "circle of death."

The way to avoid this type of accident is to never let go of the steering wheel or handle until the boat has stopped moving. You should also use the automatic shut-off lanyard if your motor is equipped with one. Be sure that clamp-on swivel seats are tightly secured and seat backs are sturdy enough to withstand the shock of a victim being thrown against them. And finally, if you notice that it takes extra pressure to hold your boat's steering, have it professionally serviced immediately.