NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


May 16, 2008

Washington, D.C. - With National Safe Boating week beginning Saturday, NTSB Chairman Mark V. Rosenker reminded boaters of the importance of using good judgment by wearing personal flotation devices at all time while on the water.

"I urge all boat operators and passengers to wear their life jackets when sailing or boating this summer," said Chairman Rosenker. "As stated in the theme of this year's campaign, 'Wear It!' a life jacket may save you and your passengers lives."

Since 1993 the NTSB has been warning that all children under age 13 (or 12 and under) should be required to wear life jackets. This campaign further underscores that message. The United States Coast Guard indicates that over a ten-year period the life jacket wear rate for children has increased from 81% to 92% (ages 0-5) and 69% to 84% (ages 6-12).

Chairman Rosenker said, " I am gratified that 48 states now require life jacket wear by children. I hope that Wisconsin and Virginia will take action soon to provide the children in their states equal protection to every other state in the country." On May 10, 2008, the Governor of Iowa signed into law a life jacket requirement for children (ages 12 and under). Wisconsin and Virginia are the only 2 states that have not taken such action.

National Safe Boating Week is from May 17 to May 23. The North American Safe Boating Campaign begun in 1957 by the National Safe Boating Council aims at spreading a message of boating safety, encouraging boater education, and helping to save lives. The Campaign has evolved into a targeted media effort stretching across the United States and into Canada.

It is clear that life jacket wear will save many more lives if persons age 13 or older would wear their life jackets. Sadly, the clear majority of recreational boating deaths involve drowning (474 out of 710 deaths in 2006), and over 89% of drowning victims were not reported to have been wearing life jackets.

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.