New York State lawmakers have passed a bill dubbed Brianna’s Law — named for a Long Island girl killed in a boating crash — that requires boaters to take boater safety classes.
The measure passed the New York State Senate last month and the state Assembly this week. The bill now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to sign it into law.
“Accidents happen whether on land or on water, but having knowledge of boating safety and navigation laws will help keep those from turning deadly,” said Assemb. Kim Jean-Pierre (D-Wheatley Heights), a lead sponsor of the bill.
Current law only requires boating classes to be taken by boaters younger than 22 years old. The majority of boat owners are middle-aged adults who are not required to take any classes relating to boating. This legislation will require all individuals propelled vessels to take a state-approved boating safety course.
There are approximately 450,000 registered powerboats statewide. Under current law, new boat owners are exempt from the requirement to complete a safety course for up to 120 days after the purchase of a vessel, and the requirement only applies for operators born after May 1, 1996.
The course provides training on boat handling, use of navigation instruments and floatation devices, as well as relevant state laws concerning boating operation and safety. There is a five-year phase-in to allow boat operators adequate time to comply with this new requirement.
The bill is named for Brianna Lieneck, an 11-year-old girl who was killed when a boat crashed into the family craft on the Great South Bay in 2005. The crash also cause serious injuries to her entire family. Since then, Brianna’s mother, Gina Lieneck, of Deer Park, has lobbied state lawmakers to pass the boater safety course bill.
“Gina Lieneck has made it her mission to turn tragedy into triumph so that other families can be spared the heartbreak that her family has endured,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.
State Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford), who sponsored the bill in the senate, said the bill is a lifesaver.
“The safety of our waterways in New York is every bit as important as the safety of our roadways,” he said. “Brianna Lieneck and her family paid the ultimate price from inadequate regulation. Knowing the laws of the waterways is crucial and it is simply a matter of common sense that informed vessel-operators will result in safer waters. I am confident that it will save lives.”