New York State Assembly candidate Joe Dujmic today announced a Safe Waterways Act he would introduce in Albany which would, for the first time, require all persons operating a boat to have a state-authorized license, conditioned upon passage of an approved safe boating course and proper liability insurance.
To avoid added layers of bureaucracy, Dujmic’s proposed legislation would simply add a boating classification to drivers’ licenses issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Dujmic is the Democratic candidate in the 10th Assembly District, which covers the northwestern corner of Suffolk County comprising of most of the Town of Huntington and parts of Babylon.
According to the United States Coast Guard, there were 4,588 recreational boating accidents nationwide involving nearly 6,000 vessels, accounting for 3,081 injuries and 758 deaths. In the last full five years (2007-2011) across New York State, there were 75 boating accidents, with 69 injuries and 32 fatalities.
“Our recreational waterways contribute greatly to the quality of life in New York State, especially here on Long Island, but we need to ensure that everybody can enjoy a day on the water safely,” said Dujmic. “The five most common causes of boating accidents are inattention, inexperience, improper lookout, excessive speed and mechanical failure – and a required safe boating course can likely lower those first four causes.”
“A 24-foot boat can weigh close to 5,000 pounds, and when operated carelessly can be a lethal weapon on the waterways,” he said. “I don’t believe that anybody intends to be a reckless boater, however we owe it to everybody out there to establish a threshold where every boat operator has a basic awareness of safety.”
Dujmic’s proposed bill would make it mandatory for any person who intends to pilot a motor-driven vessel within the state to take and pass a New York State, Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron safe boating course. (Currently only operators between the ages of 10-18, and jet ski operators of any age, are required to receive safety certification.)
While there have been several proposals requiring safety course in Albany, only the Dujmic Safe Waterways Act would stipulate licensing. Upon passage of the safe boating course, the boater’s New York State driver’s license can be updated to add the new boating classification. There are more than 460,000 motorboats registered in New York State.
Joe Dujmic (pronounce Dudge-mick) is a private practice attorney and small business owner based in the Town of Huntington. A graduate of St. Johns University (criminal justice) and New York Law School (juris doctor) the native Long Islander announced his candidacy in February of this year challenging the 24-year incumbent in the 10th Assembly District.