Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Letter To The Editor

September 1, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Dear Editor:

Our world-class beaches, boating, sailing, and fishing are among the best parts of our quality of life we cherish here on Long Island.   Boating brings families and friends together (I grew up boating on the Great South Bay), and for many, it is why we live here. A day on the water should be a pleasure not one that ends in tragedy. Unfortunately, recent events, including one that claimed the lives of three young children, remind us that even as we enjoy recreational water activities, we must also respect the water and take the necessary steps to become educated about boating safety.  It should concern us all that United States Coast Guard statistics show boating fatalities have increased more than 15% since 2010, including too many drownings.

Currently, there is no requirement for adults in New York State to complete a boating safety course in order to operate a pleasure craft in our waters.   For any of us that are concerned about our personal safety, the safety of our passengers, and knowing and respecting the “rules of the road” that should be unacceptable. That is why I have introduced “Suffolk’s Safer Waterways Act,” legislation that will require all boaters operating a vessel on Suffolk County waterways to complete an approved boating safety course.

I have worked closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, our regional Power Squadrons, and most importantly, boaters in our community, who strongly support this effort to ensure that all boaters have received essential safety training before operating a vessel on our waters.   Although this initiative will not prevent every accident, in the absence of state action, I strongly believe that the time to act is now, so that we can help prevent tragic loss of life in the future.

Some say this effort is nothing more than government getting in our way and generating revenue. That is absolutely not true, as these courses will not be part of any government program but provided by several outstanding organizations like the Coast Guard Auxiliary and local Power Squadrons within our communities. Others contend that you cannot legislate common sense. I agree. But I am sure most responsible boaters would agree that common sense is not automatic. Like everything else in life, good boating common sense comes from experience based on a solid foundation. This is common sense legislation that so many leaders within the boating community believe is long overdue.

Suffolk County has a long and proud tradition of leading the way in protecting the safety and well-being of our residents.  It is my sincere hope that this important initiative will protect all of us who enjoy our waterways.


Steve Stern

Legislator 16th District

1842 E. Jericho Turnpike

Huntington NY 11743


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