Life jacket use improving

More than three-quarters of boaties are wearing lifejackets the majority of the time they are on the water, according to research published in November by Maritime NZ.

The results, from the 2017 IPSOS research, aligns with the on-the-water observational “No Excuses” survey done last summer by Maritime NZ and harbour masters which show even higher levels of lifejacket wear at 90 per cent.

Maritime NZ director Keith Manch says recreational boating fatalities have decreased over the past two years. There were 27 fatalities in 2014, 24 in 2015 and 13 in 2016, with 12 so far in 2017 (at the time of writing).

“This summer we want boaties to keep up their good lifejacket behaviour and increase their use of communications, particularly by taking a waterproof VHF radio,” says Keith.

“Lifejackets help you float and unquestionably save lives, but if you can’t call for help, we can’t rescue you. You really need both. A marine VHF radio is usually best and a distress beacon is also vital for most boaties.”

While more boaties are wearing life jackets, the same research discovered only around half are taking two waterproof ways of calling for help.

Nearly one in every two Kiwi boaties (1.4 million adults) was involved in recreational boating last summer. In 2014, about a third of the adult population called themselves boaties, while in 2017 that figure is 42 per cent.

The most popular craft are kayaks, used by 32 per cent of boaties, followed by power boats under six metres used by 21 per cent. Kayakers are also the youngest group – 48 per cent are aged 18-to-34 compared to 35 per cent of people using power boats under six metres.

“It is evidence like this that informs the Safer Boating Forum’s campaigns,” says Keith.

The Forum comprises boating and water safety organisations, the marine industry and central and local government agencies. It works to reduce boating injuries and fatalities, and improve boat safety behaviour.


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