On Tuesday May 24th, the Town of Babylon held a press conference at Tanner Park in Copiague to call on residents to practice safe measures this summer while operating boats on the water. Joining Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer and other local officials was Gina Lieneck, a Town resident who lost her 11-year old daughter in a boating accident in 2005. The press conference came just days before one of the biggest boating weekends of the year, Memorial Day Weekend. With operator inattention being the biggest cause of boating accidents in New York State in 2015, the event was held to remind residents to be alert while on the water.
“We are encouraging our residents to take every precaution necessary while operating on the waterways,” Supervisor Schaffer said. “While new laws have helped address boating safety, there are still too many accidents, injuries, and deaths on the water. We will continue to be vigilant in this effort so that everyone can have the peace of mind to know that they are safe when they take their boats out this summer.”
Since the 2012 passage of the Suffolk Safer Waterways Act, which requires that all boat operators in Suffolk County take a safety course, the County has seen a 20% decline in boating accidents. Still, in 2015, 25% of all boating accidents in New York State occurred on the Great South Bay. Organizations such as the United States Power Squadron offer courses that teach the knowledge necessary to operate boats safely and legally.
“There is nothing better than safe boating, and that is what we advocate,” United States Power Squadron Officer Angelo Giovanniello said. “We are now permitted to teach our safety courses literally on the water, either on your own boat or on a boat that the Power Squadron provides.”
“Boating is one of the few endeavors where you can purchase a large vessel with little-to-no experience on operating it,” said Gordon Canary of New York State Senator Phil Boyle’s office. “We encourage every boater to take a vessel operator’s course.”
Town of Babylon resident Gina Lieneck was instrumental in the passage of the 2012 law, and has been actively promoting boating safety measures since her daughter was struck and killed by a boat in 2005.
“I am asking that from this holiday weekend forward, everybody take caution when on the water,” Lieneck said. “Please be considerate of other people’s lives. Don’t let another family have to go through what we do on a daily basis.”
“Boating is something that we all enjoy throughout Long Island,” said Suffolk County Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory, one of the sponsors of the 2012 law. “We certainly want to make sure that everyone on our waterways is properly trained to operate their boats.”
To register for a New York State Boating Course, residents can visit www.safeboatingnewyork.com, and use code BABYLON to receive a registration discount.