Rules of the Waterway: And the survey says... - Valley Morning Star : News

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Rules of the Waterway: And the survey says...

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Posted: Monday, December 3, 2018 10:42 am

In our deck part of the captains class, we study all kinds of items that may be encountered while you’re underway. One that I have reviewed before is the use of life jackets.

A recent survey of 10,000 boaters by a state university’s recreational marine research center shows that boaters’ attitudes toward mandatory wear haven’t changed much in six years. The July 2004 survey found that 86 percent of boaters still oppose mandatory wear for all boaters, and a third of the boaters surveyed said a mandatory wear rule would influence them to boat less.

In a confidential survey of state boating law administrators earlier this year, 20 of 34 of the marine police chiefs preferred some alternative to mandating PFDs for those on all boats smaller than 21 feet. However, 33 supported mandatory wear while water skiing, 20 supported it offshore, 27 favored it in cold-water environments, and 23 supported mandatory wear on swift-moving rivers.

After further research in a Coast Guard newsletter, I found out that in 2003, 481 of 703 boating fatalities in the United States were drownings, and 416 of those drowning victims — 86 percent — weren’t wearing a PFD. Coast Guard studies show that a little more than 22 percent of boaters overall wear their PFDs on the boat. The wear rate for adults on speedboats and runabouts averages a scant 3.9 to 5.5 percent. These figures have changed little over six years despite a massive public education effort.

I am personally between the fence on this issue. Precautions should always be taken when you don’t have it on. On a moving boat, it is strongly encouraged to wear one.

As always, be safe and see you on the water

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