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Federal Boating News

April 4, 2011
Mandatory life jacket wear debate reaches the national level

Over the weekend, the US Coast Guard's National Boating Safety Advisory Council met to develop a mandatory life jacket wear recommendation for the US Coast Guard. Since this Council was asked to consider this idea by the Coast Guard nearly a year ago, there has been considerable debate and research into the pro's and con's of such a potential mandate that would impact all ages of boaters. While there are some people who feel that every life is worth saving at any cost, there are others who feel that adults on most boats should be left to make the "when to wear it" decision for themselves. In the end, a resolution was passed with a 16 to 5 vote. This resolution recommends that the U.S. Coast Guard develop regulations (with substantial public comment opportunity) to require that while underway, a USCG approved life jacket is worn by all boaters aboard:

  • personal watercraft regardless of length;
  • human-powered vessels (such as canoes, kayaks, rowboats, etc) regardless of length;
  • any vessel less than 18' in length
  • for any person towed while engaged in watersports

BoatU.S. has been actively engaged in this debate over the last year, and will remain so. Stay tuned for future opportunities to weigh in on this important matter.

Click here for a copy of the full resolution