Klein holds presser on new boat safety bill

Klein holds presser on new boat safety bill
Photo by Kirsten Sanchez

After several tragic boating-related deaths on New York waterways, Senator Jeff Klein is pushing legislation to make boat safety training for teens a crucial part of every New Yorker’s motorboat licensing application.

Klein joined Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) and Assemblywoman Galef (D-Westchester/Putnam) on Monday, July 15 at a City Island press conference, to urge Gov. Cuomo to sign the legislation into law.

The bill, requiring everyone 18 years and younger to pass a certified boating safety course before operating motorboats, was championed by the legislators in the recent Albany session.

Joined by the mother and grandmother of Bryan Johnson, who died in a boating accident last June off of City Island, Klein underlined his support for boating education requirements, citing evidence showing that the Bronx has among the highest rates of boating accidents in the state.

“Here in the Bronx, we have the third highest rate of boating accidents in the state,” said Klein. “That’s unacceptable, and it demonstrates why we have a duty to do more. That’s why I supported legislation that will increase boating safety education, bring our standards in line with neighboring states and, most importantly, save lives.”

The proposed legislation would require a number of saftey precautions, including:

· No person born on or after May 1, 1996 may operate a mechanically propelled vessel on the navigable waters of the state, unless they hold a boating safety certificate.

· A boating safety certificate can only be issued by the Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the U.S. Power Squadrons or the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.

· A person who is younger than 18 years of age may operate a mechanically propelled vessel without a boating safety certificate, provided they are accompanied by at least one person at least 18 years of age who is either the holder of a boating safety certificate or is not required to hold a boating safety certificate.

The bill provides a grace period of 120 days for people who purchase a boat, and are otherwise required to hold a boating safety certificate, to operate such a vessel without a certificate.

People renting boats will not be required to have a boating safety license, unless they will be renting the boat for a period over 60 days.

Certified boating safety instructors, members of the U.S. Power Squadrons, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, holders of public vessel licenses, police officers, fire personnel and peace officers are exempt from the proposed legislation.

“Boating safety should be a top priority, especially given the fact that too many accidents involve younger people who do not know the rules of the waters,” said Thomasina Laidley-Brown, grandmother to the late Johnson. “I have fought hard with our state leaders to pass this through the legislature, and now I’m urging the Governor to follow through.”

A spokesperson for Klein’s office said they expect the governor to sign the legislation into law before the end of the summer.

Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at ksanchez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3394