Monday, September 14, 2009

New Life Jacket Law Hits NY

New York is the first state to require life jackets to be worn on vessels up to 21 feet during the coldest months of the year.

In an effort to reduce boating deaths in the state, the law requires that people of all ages aboard all pleasure craft as large as 21 feet – including kayaks, row boats, sailboats and motorboats – wear life jackets while on a boat from November 1st to May 1st. This is in addition to the existing NY law requiring children under 12 to wear a PFD on boats up to 65 feet when on deck while underway.

The new law recognizes that small boats, cold water and lack of life jackets are a lethal combination. According to the Associated Press, about 90 percent of the people who died in US boating accidents last year were not wearing life jackets. Additionally, even though there are fewer boating deaths in the winter overall, the fatality rate from boating accidents typically increases in the colder months. For example, July of last year saw an 8% fatality rate nationally, compared to 25% in November.

So what’s the bottom line? If you boat in cold weather, wear a life jacket. It will not only save you a few bucks by avoiding a fine, but it could save your life.