Assemblyman Stirpe: Safety Comes First on Our Waterways

As the weather warms and summer approaches, we can all look forward to our first time on the water this boating season. Whether it is spent fishing, swimming or hanging out with friends and family, there’s nothing better than spending a day on the water. We all know that safety is so important when out on the water and that is why I want to let you know that there is a new law that requires certain boat operators to obtain a boating safety certificate. We need to make sure that everyone safe on the water and that it’s incredibly important for every boat operator be properly educated and experienced. Sadly, there were 195 boating accidents with 112 injuries and 18 fatalities reported in New York State last year.1 And although the yearly number of recreational boating accidents has declined significantly within the past 20 years, there are measures that can be taken to further reduce the dangers of boating. The new law, which went into effect May 1, will phase in the requirement of safety classes for all boat operators. Beginning this year, all persons 18 years old or younger must first obtain a safety certificate before operating a boat, and within a period of years, all boat operators, regardless of age, must do the same. The law covers all motorized water vessels and also specifies that no one under the age of 10 can operate such vessels. Safety certificates can be acquired after completing an eight-hour safe boating course with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation, the U.S. Power Squadrons or the U.S. Coast Guard. Upcoming boater safety courses – open to adults and children – will be held on:

  • Saturday, May 17
    Brewerton Fire Department
    9625 Brewerton Road
    To schedule, call Jason Wright 315-415-8006
  • Saturday, May 31 and Saturday, June 28
    Carnegie Center at Driver’s Village
    5885 E. Circle Drive, Cicero
    To schedule, call Jason Wright 315-415-8006
  • Sunday, May 18, Saturday, June 7 and Sunday, June 22
    South Shore Association of Oneida Lake
    6690 S. Bay Road, Cicero
    To schedule, call Patrick Sacco 315-453-3660
Anyone wishing to operate a boat must be equipped with the necessary training and have knowledge of basic safety procedures before they take control of a mechanical vessel that may have the potential to seriously injure someone. I also want to remind everyone that drinking while operating a boat is illegal. Just because you’re on the water doesn’t mean you can drink and drive. Let’s keep our beautiful waterways safe for all to enjoy. For more information regarding boater safety courses, visit the NYS Parks website ( And as always, if you have questions or comments about this or any other community issue, please don’t hesitate to contact my office at or 315-452-1115. ____________________ 1.