NASSAU COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- Nassau County is increasing waterway patrols after a significant rise in boating injuries and fatalities so far this boating season.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder discussed "Operation Safe Boating" Friday and announced more patrols in hotspot areas to educate and enforce state navigation laws with a focus on boating safety.
"We've had five fatalities on the water opposed to one last summer," Curran said. "We attribute this to, obviously, to more boat traffic, inexperienced boaters and venturing out in unsafe conditions."
Officials say that with residents looking for entertainment close to home amid the coronavirus pandemic, boat sales have soared.
And with more boat traffic, inexperienced boaters and those unknowingly venturing out in rough waters have led to an uptick in accidents and fatalities.
"So we stood here back before the July 4 weekend and we asked everybody to give the warnings and the safety issues for the boats while you're out in the waterway," Ryder said. "So far this year, we've written over 400 summonses on the waterway. There have been 350 calls for assistance, and we've done over 400 vessel inspections."
As a result, the Nassau County Police Department will increase its presence to enforce speed limits, increase inspections for safety equipment, and respond to suspicions of BWI.
"Situational awareness, not being intoxicated, having the right kind of equipment can make the difference between having a great day and having a nightmare," Ryder said. "You got to slow down on the waterway. We're going to be out there with enforcement. You're going to get the tickets. We're going to do the inspections."
Curran says that by following the law -- which includes completing a boating safety course -- will help keep Long Island waterways safe.