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Avella lends his support for boat safety bill

The Kandi Won is towed to shore after being raised from the bottom of Oyster Bay, days after it capsized and sank, killing three children in its cabin. , Pool
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After a summer of tragedy on the water, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has teamed up with another state lawmaker to draft legislation to encourage safer boating.

With help from Sen. David Carlucci (D-Nanuet), Avella offered support for a bill that would offer reduced insurance premiums for New Yorkers after they take boating safety courses. The idea, Avella said, was based on a “carrot-and-stick” approach that would encourage boaters to learn how to properly operate their vessels with a renewed focus on accident prevention.

State regulations currently only require a boating safety course for those below age 18 or anyone operating a personal watercraft.

“The United States Coast Guard has repeatedly stated that boat operators without safety certificates are more likely to engage in negligent and inappropriate behavior and this, combined with operator inexperience, account for an overwhelming percentage of all reported boating incidents,” Avella said.

The shifting focus on boating regulations comes on the heels of a July 4 accident on Long Island, in which three children died and 24 other passengers were rescued. Since then, Lisa and Paul Gaines, parents of 7-year-old Victoria Gaines, helped lead a charge in calling for more strict laws to prevent another capsized boating disaster.

Last week, Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Oyster Bay) held a hearing on potential legislation that could also be adopted in the state Legislature.

“Just like drivers can receive an insurance rate reduction when they take a defensive driving course, this legislation applies the same concept to boating so we can prevent future accidents and protect our waters,” Carlucci said. “We have witnessed enough tragedy this summer with many who have lost their lives. This legislation is a reasonable incentive for those who want to enjoy our waterways in a safe and responsible way.”

Carlucci introduced a bill in May that would create a financial incentive to bring about safer boating operations throughout the state, his office said. Avella signed onto the bill as a cosponsor.

With much of Avella’s 11th Senate District stretching through areas of northeast Queens, where boating is a popular activity near places like the Bayside Marina, the Douglaston Club and other spots along the shore to Flushing, the senator said Carlucci’s bill was an important step in the right direction.

“It is simply unacceptable that New York state does not require mandatory boater safety training and Sen. Carlucci’s bill will help in the effort to make sure all boat operators are sufficiently trained by offering this financial incentive through a reduction in insurance premiums,” Avella said.

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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