N.Y. Boat Safety Bill Advances

June 8, 2007

The New York State Senate has passed legislation its backers promise will strengthen New York’s navigation laws to improve public boating safety.

The measure, (S.4242), sponsored by Senator Betty Little (R,C,I-Queensbury), is part of the response to the Ethan Allen boat tragedy on Lake George in 2005.

A companion bill sponsored by Assemblyman David Gantt has been approved by the Assembly Transportation Committee.

“With a few weeks remaining in session, I am pleased to see we are making progress on a comprehensive plan to improve public boating safety in New York State,” said Little. “Our public boats provide a great service, attracting thousands of tourists to our state and generating millions of dollars in revenue. The Ethan Allen tragedy in October 2005 forced us to reexamine our navigation laws. This legislation would benefit everyone by putting in place reasonable measures to improve safety.”

“This legislation would strengthen our laws to ensure the safety of pubic boats and the passengers who enjoy them,” Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said. “In the wake of the tragedy on Lake George, this measure would help ensure public confidence and I applaud Senator Little for her leadership on this important issue.”

Provisions of the bill include:

requiring that public vessels certified to carry more than 20 passengers be equipped with a minimum of two functional, unobstructed means of egress on each deck;

prohibiting operation of a public vessel with less than the required number of crew as specified by the vessel’s certificate of inspection;

requiring owners of a public vessel to notify a marine inspector of any proposed repairs of modifications, or any repairs or modifications of which the owner becomes aware, that may affect the vessel’s stability, sea worthiness or safe operation (a reinspection may be required following repair or modification); and,

requiring public vessels certified to carry more than 10 passengers be equipped with a very high frequency (VHF) marine radio or operational cellular phone capable of effective communication in the vessel’s service area; those certified to carry more than 65 passengers would be required to be equipped with radar.

The legislation would also increase penalties for violating the state’s navigation law and provide that anyone who causes the loss of life due to misconduct, negligence or inattention to their duties while employed on a public vessel, or as an owner or charterer, be guilty of a class E felony.

Source: N.Y. State Senate

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