In good news for boating safety, more recreational boaties are wearing lifejackets the entire time they are on the water.
Maritime New Zealand has released new research into recreational boating behaviour that shows in 2015 78 per cent of recreational boaties reported wearing a lifejacket the entire time they were on the water. This is up from 67 per cent in 2014, and 62 per cent in 2013.
Anecdotal evidence from Harbour Masters’ patrols over the holidays supports the research – more boaties are wearing lifejackets.
Maritime NZ Deputy Director and Chair of the Safer Boating Forum, Lindsay Sturt, said this change is important because of the tragic statistic that two-thirds of recreational boating fatalities would likely have been prevented by wearing a lifejacket.
Last year 24 people died in recreational boating accidents compared to 27 in 2014.
“The focus of our summer safer boating campaign is to encourage boaties to wear lifejackets all the time,” Mr Sturt said.
“It is encouraging that 66 per cent of boaties who recalled the ‘Get it on: Lifejackets for Life’ TV campaign actually took action as a result of seeing the advertising.
“We know about 94 per cent of boaties carry enough lifejackets for everyone on board but it is wearing them that counts. A lifejacket is no good unless it’s being worn.”
As well as its advertising campaign, Maritime NZ also publicises boating incidents to give real life examples of consequences of not taking sensible precautions and also of good boating behavior.
“The media have a big part to play in spreading safer boating messages and we are grateful for their support,” Mr Sturt said.
Boaties’ comments reported in the survey included:
“Never took it seriously until I heard about the accidents of my peers.”
“I’ve always been safety conscious when out on the water; a bit like always wearing your seatbelt in a vehicle. But it’s nice to see that others are taking it a bit more seriously now.”
“Drownings have increased… wearing a lifejacket is an important action that could help reduce drownings.”
“I used to take wearing a lifejacket more casually when I was out with other adults; whereas now I wear one as regularly as I do when I’m with my kids.”