Boating safety advocates: Online safety course may not be enough
Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and lots of Long Islanders are ready to get their vessels in the water – but this year, new rules requiring some boaters to have safety classes go into effect.
Boating safety advocates say the COVID-19 pandemic could reduce the effectiveness of those classes, as mandated by Brianna's Law, since in-person sessions were canceled in favor of online recorded seminars.
Gina Lieneck, the mother of Brianna Lieneck – who was killed in a 2005 boating accident, says those online seminars are not as effective as in-person classes. She and boating safety advocates say it's better than nothing.
"I think there's going to be more boaters due to the pandemic, so it's imperative for people to get these classes done, because there are a lot of uneducated boaters out there," she told News 12.
Brianna's Law was passed after she died on the Great South Bay. It requires boaters born after Jan. 1993 to take an eight-hour safety course. Older boaters will have to take the class at some point in the future.
Safety advocates say the classes are even more important this year because they're also expecting a very busy boating season because of the pandemic.
"More people are home, people that have boats are going to utilize them more because they can socially distance themselves out on the bay," says Babylon Harbor Master Tim Taylor.
Lienick is hoping boaters take the class seriously to keep other families from experiencing a tragic incident.
"If my daughter did have a chance, they lessened it because they didn't know what they were doing," she says.