Governor Andrew Cuomo is taking steps to make New York waterways safer. YNN's Jessica Chen has more about the new law requiring boat operators to take a safety course.
MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- The law is changing for boat operators in New York State. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed new legislation Friday requiring all motorized boat operators to take and pass a boat safety course.
Michael Himes of the U.S. Coast Guard said the legislation is a good idea.
"Boating safety courses are the building blocks of how to operate the vessel safely on the water," said Himes.
Previously, the law only required operators of a personal watercraft to take and pass the course, or be accompanied by a person over 18 who did.
"That education is effective in disclaiming the dangers of being out on the water and promoting best practices on how to be safe on the water," said Himes.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, more than 55 percent of boating accidents nationwide are caused by either inexperience, poor judgement or operator error. In 2012, there were 27 boating related fatalities in New York.
The hope of mandating this course for all boat operates is to decrease the number of boating accidents. Himes said the course teaches a variety of safety essentials.
"What kind of life jacket to wear, to how to navigate a river and a waterway; to what kind of laws you should be aware of when you're out on the water," said Himes.
The eight hour course will be put in effect over several years. However, all 18-year-old boaters will be required to take the course by next year.
The course can be taken with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation, the U.S. Power Squadrons, or the U.S. Coast Guard.