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New state law requires increased boater training

One of the biggest dangers to recreational boaters is boat operators who don't have the proper training. A state law that took effect on Jan. 1 is designed to improve that training. Known as "Brianna's Law," it requires people to pass a safety course before they can operates a motorized boat or other watercraft in the state.

The required boater safety training course is eight hours. It can be taken online or in a classroom.

The requirement for operators to have this training is being phased in over the next five years. Younger boaters (those born in 1993 or later) have to pass the course this year. The older you are, the longer you have to complete the course and get the state-mandated safety certificate.

By the start of 2025, all motorized watercraft operators must have this safety certificate. The state's Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation estimates that by then, almost a million New Yorkers will have completed the safety course, which can be taken online or in a class. Their website has more information on boater education.

Anyone who is caught operating a vessel without the required certificate can be fined as much as $200.

Brianna's law is named for an 11-year-old Long Island girl who was killed in a boating accident in 2005. The girl's family has worked with state lawmakers to get the law passed. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it last August.

At the signing, Gov. Cuomo said, "There should be a basic level of knowledge that you have before you're given the permission to go out there and operate a boat, and making a safety course mandatory is common sense."

A husband and wife who teach boating safety classes at a yacht club in Central New York say that this required training can save lives. The husband says, "Without fail, every single accident, whether it's a grounding or fatality or a collision, all of this happened because they didn't do something that was covered in our boating safety course."

If you or a loved one is injured by a reckless or negligent boat operator, you have the right to take legal action against them regardless of any criminal penalties they may or may not be facing. It's best to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney who can help you seek justice and compensation.

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