New York governor signs boating safety course law

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On Tuesday in Copiague, N.Y., on Long Island, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a new law requiring all boat operators to take a safety course. Known as “Brianna’s Law,” the legislation is named for 11-year-old Brianna Lieneck of Deer Park, N.Y., who was killed in a boating accident in 2005, according to Newsday.

The new law will require operators of powerboats more than 10 years old to take an 8-hour boating safety course. The course will cost $29.50. Previously, state law required safety courses only for boaters born after May 1, 1996.

Gina Lieneck and her husband Frank advocated in Albany and on Long Island for years after their daughter’s death. The family’s boat was headed home from Fire Island on an August evening when a larger boat reportedly collided with it, hitting the Lienecks’ vessel on the side where Brianna was sitting. Her sister Danyelle, 13, was also injured.

According to Newsday, New York’s 2018 Recreational Boating Report listed 17 fatal boating accidents in New York last year, leaving a total of 19 people dead. In 2017, there were 4.95 deaths per 100,000 registered boats and other watercraft, according to the report. That number dropped to 4.33 per 100,000 boats in 2018, the report said. In 2018, alcohol was blamed in 28 crashes, while driver inattention was blamed in 86 and speed was the cause in 23 wrecks.

The state reports that accidents have decreased since more boaters were required to take safety courses. In 2000, there were 288 boating accidents, but that number dropped to 203 in 2018. During that time, the number of students in safety classes rose from 8,076 in 2000 to 24,168 in 2018.

“These waterways are everything to us,” Steven Bellone, Suffolk County executive, said in a statement. “It’s about keeping people safe on these waterways that are getting more and more crowded and to make sure what happened to the Lieneck family does not happen to others.”

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