ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York State Assembly approved a bill that would require boaters to complete a safety course before taking to the waters. The measure will be presented to Governor Cuomo for his consideration and endorsement should he approve. Briana’s Law, as the legislation is known, passed the State Assembly 96-1 and passed through the state senate with equally resounding results. Newsday reported that the bill had reached the Governor’s desk. However, his office never returned calls seeking comment on the legislation named after a girl who died in a boating accident in 2005 when she was just 11 years old.
The bill’s namesake was only 11 when she died in a tragic boating accident off of Fire Island in 2005. Newsday reported that on August 17, 2005, Brianna and her family were on a moonlight cruise headed home to Fire Island when a much larger boat struck them at a 90-degree angle to the hull. All on board Brianna’s boat were severely injured. Everyone recovered except for Brianna. Now fully recovered, Brianna’s mother fought vigorously to get this piece of legislation passed.
If the Governor signs Brianna’s Law into the Law of the State of New York, sweeping changes will take effect almost immediately. All of the state’s 400,000 vessel owners and operators must take and pass a safety course to operate a boat lawfully on New York waters from ages 10 and older. State law requires mariners to take a safety course for anyone born on or after May 1, 1996.
All boaters who have successfully completed safety courses and received certifications will have no further obligations under Brianna’s Law. New York state regulators must now determine what courses currently offered across the state meet the minimum requirements to certify boaters under the new Law. Many lawmakers from boat sides of the aisle lauded the Law as long overdue and will be an effective means of preventing boating tragedies.
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