“The warmest months of the year are finally upon us and, for many of us here on Long Island, that means it’s time to hit the open water with family and friends. But before we sail off on new adventures, it’s important that boaters brush up on their safety skills and ensure they have all the equipment and training necessary to navigate the waterways safely. In honor of National Safe Boating Week, I wanted to highlight some of the precautions and laws that are in place to keep our families safe on the water this summer.
“First, it’s smart to take an online course and re-familiarize yourself with boating rules before taking a ride. You should also be sure to check that your boat has all the essential gear you need. This includes making sure all passengers have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved lifejacket on, which could be lifesaving in the event of an emergency. Remember that like driving a car, boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs puts you, your passengers and others around you in grave danger. Be sure to always boat sober! Finally, check the weather before you leave shore in case of a storm. Bad weather not only makes the water rougher, but can put stress on the boater that further increases their risk of an accident. Throughout your ride, stay alert and be aware of other boaters, swimmers and environmental factors.
“Unfortunately, Long Islanders know firsthand the tragedy that can occur when boaters act carelessly. We all still mourn the loss of 11-year-old Brianna Lieneck, whose life was cut far too short in a 2005 boating accident. This led to the creation of Brianna’s Law, a measure I championed and helped enact that requires operators of mechanically propelled vessels to complete a boating safety course (Ch. 147 of 2019). The law is set to be phased in for different age groups over a 5-year span. As of this past January, New Yorkers born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, are required to complete a boating safety course before operating a motorized vessel. The continued phase-in of this law will help ensure boaters of all ages attain the proper knowledge and training needed to operate a boat and prevent more horrific accidents from occurring.
“To further increase boater safety, I sponsored and helped pass a bill requiring certain boats to have a functioning marine carbon monoxide detector (A.5565). I’m also sponsoring legislation that would strengthen penalties for those operating a boat while intoxicated with a child on board (A.911). I’ll continue fighting for these critical measures to be signed into law.
“We should all be able to enjoy the beauty and excitement of boating without having to fear for our families’ well-being. While they are wonderful tools that can be used to travel as well as provide endless hours of enjoyment with family and friends, it’s absolutely imperative to remember that operating boats – like cars – is an enormous responsibility. Through awareness, education and smart and effective action, we can continue to mitigate the risks that come with this beloved activity and make fun-filled memories that will last a lifetime.”