U.S. Representative Andrew Garbarino, who represents New York’s second congressional district — one of the four districts on Long Island — has introduced a bill to help ensure the safety of boaters on and around Long Island.
The legislation, called the Brianna Lieneck Boating Safety Act of 2023, directs the United States Coast Guard to study and submit to Congress a report on recreational vessel operator education and training in order to improve boating safety and reduce the number of boating accidents that occur due to untrained boat operators.
The bill is named in honor of an 11-year-old girl — Brianna Lieneck — who was killed in a boating accident in 2005, when a boat driven by Steven Fleisher collided with Lieneck’s family’s boat in the Great South Bay. According to a news release from Garbarino’s office, Fleisher did not have a boating license when the event occurred. Brianna’s mother, Gina Lieneck, was injured in the accident and has since advocated for mandatory licenses for boaters.
“Many Long Islanders spend their summers enjoying boating and other water activities, but if we don’t proactively prioritize safety that’s when tragedies, like the one that befell the Lieneck family, happen,” Rep. Garbarino said in a statement. “According to a 2020 USCG report, boat operators who did not receive boating safety instruction were involved in 77% of fatal recreational boating accidents nationwide. The Brianna Lieneck Boating Safety Act of 2023 will help eliminate these incidents and keep boaters on Long Island and around the country safe through education and training programs.”
According to Coast Guard statistics, there have been over 6000 boating deaths between 2012 and 2021, averaging between 560 and 760 deaths per year.
Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, a former police officer and firefighter who represents New York’s fourth congressional district, has cosponsored the bill.
“Boating has long been a favorite pastime of Long Islanders as well as Americans across the country, and it is imperative that the federal government does more to ensure the safety of boaters,” Rep. D’Esposito said. “Regretfully, we have seen far too many preventable deaths caused by boaters operating vessels under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In light of this history of tragedies, I am proud to co-sponsor the Brianna Lieneck Boating Safety Act of 2023, legislation that musters the capabilities of the federal government to review the current landscape of boater education programs which is an important step towards improving the programs and enhancing safety on the water.”
Rep. Nick LaLota, a Navy veteran who represents the first congressional district, also cosponsored the bill.
“As a Navy man, boater, and Long Islander, I understand that increasing boating education and safety training will go a long way to preventing injuries and fatalities like what happened to Brianna Lieneck,” Rep. LaLota said. “Our legislation will save lives and ensure that families can safely enjoy our waters. I am proud to join my Long Island colleagues in introducing this bill to keep more Americans safe.”
Elements of the bill would require the secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating to study and report to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as well as the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation regarding recreational vessel operator training.
The full text of Rep. Garbarino’s bill can be found at tinyurl.com/GarbarinoBoatingBill.