A new state law passed in New York requires boaters to take a safe-boating course. It applies to anyone born after May 1996 — which means that this year, every 18-year-old (or younger) boater must be certified. Violations can result in fines of up to $250.

Officials say it is not just the requirement, but the publicity surrounding safe boating that gets people into the class. Many who take it are not legally required to—almost 7,000 people took the course statewide between October and April, hundreds more than during the same time period last year.

One group taking the course regularly are those whose spouses already drive boats, which will enable them to be ready to take over if their significant other is incapacitated. In this instance, it is imperative that another person onboard know how to operate the craft.

Most people act safely on the water, but there are always exceptions. Boaters sometimes move recklessly, or passengers sit on the bow with their feet dangling over the edge. Quite often people leave the dock without life preservers, or worse, allow children under 12 to ride without them. All of these acts are violations.

The new law was passed in honor of the family of Bryan Johnson, who died when a prank turned tragic back in 2012. Johnson and his friends were swimming in the Long Island Sound at night when the pilot pulled away as a joke. The others made it back onboard, but Johnson was not found until six days later, drowned.

I Was Injured in a Recreational Boating Accident. What Can I Do?

If you or a family member have been the victim of a boating accident, the first thing you should do is seek medical attention, then speak with a maritime attorney. To learn more about preventing recreational boating accidents or to discuss your situation, call our office for a free consultation. 

Latti & Anderson LLP Nationwide Maritime Attorneys

Source: http://www.lohud.com/story/news/traffic/2014/06/14/boaters-taking-safety-courses-new-law-kicks/10542225/