Single tragedy kicks off discussion on additional boating regulations in Connecticut

The government does not always have to “do something.” Emily Fedorko from Greenwich died in what can only be described as a terrible accident on the water Aug. 7. Emily and three teenage friends were in a motorboat on Long Island Sound enjoying the day when Emily died after coming in contact with a spinning propeller. Horrific. But as usual politicians are already discussing additional state regulations to limit the operation of motor vessels by kids on the water.

From The Hartford Courant.

State Rep. Stephen Dargan, a Democratic who represents the 115 Assembly District of West Haven and co-chairs the Public Safety Committee, said he was troubled to learn that minors as young as 12 can operate a boat under Connecticut law without adult supervision.

“It certainly got my attention,” he said. “That is somewhat of a young age for somebody using a lot of horsepower.”

You didn’t know this? You’ve been in the State Senate for 25 years, represent a district on the water, and are on the Public Safety Committee? It’s been the law in Connecticut for years, and the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and United States Power Squadron has been teaching the required class for decades. It generally costs $25 or less to take the class, but if you’re an experienced boater, you can skip the class and take an equivalency exam with the state … for the low cost of only $75.

What concerns me is that Dargan like many other politicians – mostly on the left – look at an individual tragic event and automatically go into “what-can-we-do-to-prevent-this-in-the-future” mode.

Here’s a hint folks, you can’t.

Dargan, who was elected in 1990, said he remembers when the legislature toughened Connecticut’s teen driving laws several years ago due to the number of teenager-involved accidents. He said he wouldn’t be opposed to reexamining the legal boating age.

Did the tougher teen driving laws reduce the number of tragic accidents? I’m not sure, but it still happens does it not?

[Honestly, it’s difficult to measure this statistic since there are so few fatal crashes involving teens in Connecticut. There are many other factors involved including the safety features in vehicles. Deaths have been prevented by airbags, better car structures, better designed roads, increased seatbelt use and other factors … it’s not just the legislative teen driving restrictions put into place.]

The Courant article quotes research showing the portion of the brain that assesses risk does not fully develop until the mid-20s. Shall we extend and expand the regulations on boating, driving, drinking, military service, voting and firearm access to those under 25?

State Sen. Len Fasano – a Republican notes…

… he doesn’t think there’s anything the state could do legislatively to prevent such types of accidents in the future.

“What happened in Greenwich is a horrible, horrible accident. But it’s just that, an accident,” he said. “I don’t think what happened is a result of someone not knowing how to run a boat.”

He’s right. Boating accidents in Connecticut are very rare, yet still some are very tragic. We don’t need legislative action or more regulation when an accident occurs. Yet politicians think they are elected to respond to every single incident … just to show they can “do something” and that they “care.”

You see, people like me “don’t care.” (That’s how I’ve been labeled.) Quite to the contrary, I really do care. It’s just that I’m a strong advocate of freedom and embracing the marketplace of ideas and innovation to improve safety on activities we freedom-loving people enjoy. But politicians and many government bureaucrats by their nature – especially on the left – claim to be smarter than all of us and care more than we do … so they keep “doing something.”

My message to them … please stop.

13 replies
  1. bien-pensant
    bien-pensant says:

    I checked the original news stories. Just four friends out for a day on the water. No alcohol or drugs involved. An accident, tragic. No new laws, regulations or fees are necessary or required.

    For some politician to make an issue of this is plain low.

  2. Dimsdale
    Dimsdale says:

    It isn’t as much of a “what-can-we-do-to-prevent-this-in-the-future” mode as it is a “what can I do to get my name in the paper and look like I am doing something” mode.

  3. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    I wish one politician, just one, would look at the present laws and eliminate those that are not necessary. Every politician thinks their job is to write legislation, not in my book. Their job should be to see if the laws accomplish something to make us safe or deal with our infrastructure and to punish those who do harm to others. That’s all folks.

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  6. johnl
    johnl says:

    What about fishing in the river when the water is high people fall in current takes them ?sad But and accident .hire tax on fishing gear will solve it right?

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