NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


May 24, 2004 

Washington, D. C. -The National Transportation Safety Board will hold a public forum to discuss mandatory wear of personal flotation devices (PFD) on recreational boats, NTSB Chairman Ellen Engleman Conners has announced. The one-day forum will begin at 9:00 am on August 25, 2004 at the NTSB Academy in Ashburn, VA.

The purpose of the forum is to gather all available data, and to promote an open and informative discussion of policy issues related to mandatory PFD use. The Safety Board has a long history of working to improve recreational boating safety. It has been on the Board's "Most Wanted" list of transportation safety improvements since its inception in 1990.

"The Board has made a solid commitment to advance recreational boating safety by all means available to our agency," said Chairman Engleman Conners. "A public forum will be an excellent mechanism to bring together agencies and organizations to identify solutions that will improve public safety in recreational boating."

Coast Guard statistics show that 750 boaters died in 2002. Eighty-five percent of those who drowned were not wearing PFDs, even though in many cases, PFDs were aboard. These statistics have been consistent from year to year and Coast Guard statistics show that approximately 450 lives could be saved each year if the victims wore PFDs. The Safety Board wants to build on this information and other data available to evaluate the safety benefits of mandatory wearing of PFDs on recreational boating.

Currently, most States require PFD wear for children and for personal watercraft operators. No State requires PFD wear for all occupants. Yet six years of observational studies by the Coast Guard show that less than 5% of adults in open boats wear PFDs.

Some of the issues discussed at the forum will be:

Registration details for the forum and directions to the Academy may be found on the Board's website at www.ntsb.gov.

NTSB Media Contact:
Keith Holloway
(202) 314-6100



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.