New York law requires boating safety course

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Friday requiring powerboat operators to pass a safety course, but some advocates are already working to get a tougher law passed next year.

The law, passed in light of several well-publicized fatal accidents in the United States last year, will require people 18 and younger to pass a boater safety course, starting in May. Critics say it will be decades before the requirement covers all powerboaters, according to Newsday.

The legislature passed the law in June, nearly a year after an accident that drew national attention: the drowning of three children in Oyster Bay on the night of July Fourth in 2012 when a cabin cruiser capsized.

Paul Gaines, whose daughter Victoria died in that accident, told Newsday that the law is “a very small step in the right direction.”

“It’s a shame that our neighboring states have much more comprehensive laws,” he said.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. David Carlucci of Rockland County and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef of Westchester, both Democrats. It requires operators born on or after May 1, 1996, to have a certificate showing completion of a course. First-time violators will face fines ranging from $100 to $250.

The state law supersedes a tougher measure Suffolk County approved last fall that would have taken effect Nov. 1. It required powerboat operators of any age to have taken a safety course. New York is the 21st state to make boater safety training mandatory. Seven states, including Connecticut and New Jersey, have similar but more stringent laws.

Galef said she would like to see all boaters required to take a safety course, but noted that when New Jersey did so, requiring all boaters to take a course immediately, “the process didn’t work” because there were not enough people to teach the classes.

Republican state Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr., whose tougher mandatory education bill stalled in Albany, said he might try again next year to require anyone who buys a boat in the future, regardless of age, to take a safety course.

Click here for the full report.


7 comments on “New York law requires boating safety course

  1. Chris S

    The law that was passed and the law that the critics want would have done nothing to prevent either of those tragic accidents last year. One was a BWI and the other not one, but two of the people operating the boat had safety certificates already. They passed the bill to look good and get PR.

  2. Bob

    I will refrain from commenting on the merits or demerits of passing mandatory boater education laws.

    I would like to point out that the United States Power Squadrons has a robust network of instructors and a well established infrastructure to teach a NASBLA approved safe boating course. I don’t know what happened in New Jersey, but the United States Power Squadrons are ready to meet these educational requirements so that the State and Federal governments do not have to shoulder that burden.

  3. enginecom

    Bad enough many boaters do not know the rules of the road. It ends up being the paddlers who endanger themselves so do sailors who do not know these rules. Seems few know what horn signals mean except to use the middle finger as a response. Makes experienced boaters avoid going out on weekends. All should pass a simple boater safety test which could be done online. Mandatory education of young people helps but it seems many adults need a refresher course or at minimum a test for boater safety knowledge. The July 4th fatal was an overloading problem. Nobody would expect non professionals to know how to load a boat except if it was so labeled.

  4. John E. Begmann

    Everyone should be required even non power such as kyack and canoes, all ages. I have a captians licence and see all ages not paying attention.

  5. Butch R

    I am 58 years old and passed the NY boaters course at 10 years old and have boated ever since in multiple states. I fully endorse everyone who operates a boat to have taken at least the basic safety instruction for their good as well as everybody else’s. The crazy things I have seen on water and at launches is enough to scare me off the water at times

  6. Linda Harvey

    New Hampshire implemented a similar law a few years ago, and it was phased in by age over 3 or 4 years, with the youngest first, and now all boaters need to have one. It was a smooth transition, and we feel has increased boating safety here. The course can be taken in a classroom or online, and is offered in many areas throughout the year. The test is a monitored test that can be taken at the end of the class administered by a state offiicial, or in a DMV office. This does not guarantee a total lack of stupidity in operating a vessel, but it is clearly an important step toward improved boater safety.

  7. Pingback: New York Boating Safety Laws | working - living in newyork

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