NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Boating season is upon us, and there are new rules in New York state for boat operators.
Depending on their age, drivers must now take a mandatory boating safety course.READ MORE: Long Island Waterways Filled With Untrained New Boaters, Creating Safety Hazards For Everyone
Boats in New York are now launching by the thousands, many manned by first timers. The pandemic gave rise to a flood of inexperience, doubling the number of accidents. There were 31 watercraft fatalities in New York last year.
“A lot of reckless behavior,” Oyster Bay Town Constable John Schmidt said. “They don’t understand to keep the distance from other boats. Remember, there’s no brakes.”
A new law makes waterways safer, 16 years in the making. Brianna’s Law is named after Gina Lieneck’s 11-year-old daughter, who was killed in a boat crash.
The law went into effect in 2020, requiring all operators of motorized watercraft to complete a state-approved boating safety course, but…
“The pandemic happened, so all in-classroom classes were cancelled,” Lieneck told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
But now, in-person classes can begin.
“Get educated, know the waterways, it’s as simple as that. You shouldn’t just buy a boat and go out on the water,” Lieneck said.READ MORE: NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo Signs ‘Brianna’s Law,’ Requiring Boat Safety Training
The eight-hour course is now mandatory for boaters, phased in over five years according to your age, beginning with 10-year-olds. That’s right, you can be 10 years old and captain a boat in New York.
Even seasoned boaters can still learn.
“The leading contributing factors to boating accidents are boating while intoxicated, operator inattention and poor training or not training at all,” said Captain Richard Werner with Safe Boating America.
“Have a designated captain. Make sure that person has gone to the training and understands the waterways. It’s complicated out there. You can run aground and that would be the least of your problems,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.
Now, a bill in Albany would trigger a driver’s license suspension for boating while impaired.
“You should lose your license. There should be penalties in place that make you think before you act, before you get on that water,” New York State Assemblyman Michael Durso said.
The waters will soon be packed with boats and Jet Skis.
“Everyone have a good time with their family and friends, and let the summer begin,” Oyster Bay Town Constable James Altadonna said.MORE NEWS: Victims Of Fiery Staten Island Boating Accident Recovering After Months In Burn Unit
But know you must carry proof you’ve completed the safety course.