NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


February 15, 2000

Washington, DC - On February 15, 2000 in Miami, Florida, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall called on the states and the recreational boating industry to work with NTSB to improve the safety of children on U.S. waterways. Recreational boating on the Board's list of "Most Wanted" safety improvements. He recognized the Personal Watercraft Industry Association (PWIA) and Bombardier for supporting the Board's recommendations for mandatory boater education and personal flotation device (PFD) use and product safety initiatives.

"The NTSB is aggressively addressing the safety concerns of children in recreational boating. The safety of our children is one of the most important ways we display the values of our society, " said Hall.

Last year, Hall announced an initiative to focus on child transportation safety. The first activities focused on motor vehicle and aviation safety. He called upon the automobile industry to design their vehicles with children in mind and provide fitting stations to help parents ensure that their children's automobile safety seats are properly secured. The Chairman also called upon the Federal Aviation Administration and the airlines to require child restraint systems on aircraft. Today the Board is turning its attention to boating safety for children.

The Board called on all states to approve: mandatory personal flotation device use by children ages 12 and under; mandatory use of PFDs for all persons aboard personal watercraft (PWC); mandatory boating education for children who are allowed to operate high-powered vessels; and safety instruction training for children and youths who rent PWCs.

Chairman Hall recognized Bombardier for its effort to improve the safety of children on our oceans, rivers and lakes. In 1998, an NTSB study showed that most PWC accidents happen with the first 60 minutes of operating experience. Bombardier answered NTSB's call to action with a product that creates the equivalent of training wheels for beginners. The SEA DOO® Learning KeyT enables first-time riders and rental operators to easily reduce the speed of their SEA DOO watercraft to approximately 35 mph by use of onboard electronics.

"The SEA DOO Learning Key will allow first-timers, secondary, touring and rental users to learn how to operate their boats safely and responsibly, while gaining needed confidence and experience," commented Pierre Beaudoin, President and Chief Operation Officer of Bombardier Recreational Products.

The Safety Board urges the states, the recreational boating industry, and the regulators to ensure that everything is being done to protect children on recreational vessels. "We want to be sure that recreational boating remains an enjoyable activity for children and their families," said Hall.


NTSB media contact: Keith Holloway, 202/314-6100
Ketchum media contact: Rand Elliott, 404/877-1859 or 404/358-4933



The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.