As with laws governing many other things, every state is able to identify it's laws and guidelines for who is required to obtain a license in order to operate a boat or watercraft. While some states in the nation make a boating license mandatory for every operator of even personal boats used for recreational purposes, New York does not according to the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Rain or shine, boating can prove to be a thrilling and memorable activity -- especially on the many waterside destinations that surround New York. Bringing the whole family along on these recreational outings is another added bonus; however, there are certain safety practices one can keep in mind to ensure the trip on the water is a successful one.
For many people in New York, a ride on a ferry to get from point A to point B is a regular part of life. Some people may live on Staten Island and work in Manhattan or even vice versa making such a trip a daily routine multiple times a week. Add to that the countless tourists who hop on and off a New York ferry and the number of people transported by these vessels begins to climb rapidly. Everyone who boards a ferry deserves to trust that they will arrive at their destination safely.
You have likely heard stories romanticizing the exploits of sea captains who heroically chose to down with their sinking ships. This age-old maxim has become so engrained in popular culture that many view it as an actual maritime law. While there is no actual law stating that the captain must go down with the ship, both U.S. and international laws do set the expectation that captains have a duty to consider the safety of their passengers above all else. The question is does such an expectation extend to you when you are navigating New York's waterways in your own personal boat?
Every year, the U.S. Coast Guard gathers data regarding fatal recreational boating accidents from throughout the United States, its territories and its waterways. According to this information, in 2016, there were 4,463 accidents leading to 701 deaths. New York saw 3.1 percent of the total recreational boating fatalities. In the state, there were 188 accidents, the highest number since 2012.
The potential for a boat malfunction on the open water may be similar to the chances that a New Yorker will end up stranded on the side of the road with a vehicle out of commission. However, the consequences of a simple mechanical failure or design flaw are often much more serious for boaters.
New York City and many of its suburbs are surrounded by water and therefore, boating is a popular recreational activity. However, activities involving boats can also be dangerous and a day of fun and sun can quickly take a dangerous turn, especially for those who are inexperienced. Suffering an injury on the water can be extremely serious for victims and their families.
Because boating is typically seen as a recreational activity, New Yorkers may assume that the laws concerning alcohol behind the wheel of a boat are not as stringent as those restricting car drivers. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, though, boating under the influence can be just as deadly as driving while impaired. About 16 percent of all boating deaths are alcohol-related.
When it comes to boating accidents, there are a myriad of ways that things can go wrong. For example, you may be hurt while working on a fishing boat, or you could sustain an injury or lose a loved one in an incident that occurs on a cruise ship. At Tabak, Mellusi & Shisha, we believe that victims of these accidents deserve justice. Sadly, far too many peoples' lives have been upended in Manhattan and all across the state of New York due to these accidents.
It may seem as if the wide-open spaces of New York waterways would lessen the risk of a collision or other accident. The vulnerability of boating passengers out on the water can turn even a small incident into a major catastrophe, though. New York has instated laws that should guide the actions of any boat operator.