Tuesday, January 3, 2012

PFD's - Should There Be A Law?

A new year and a new poll.

Should there be a law requiring PFD's (Personal Flotation Devices/Life Jackets) to be worn by ALL boaters and passengers on the Barnett Reservoir?

Some background.

Drownings claim the lives of two men at the Barnett Reservoir.

Rescue teams worked two separate drownings at The Rez, one in November and another in December -  both incidents involved fishermen.

These situations often raise questions about the mandatory use of life jackets while boating.

Randy Newell, MDWFP
Randy Newell, with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks, provided the press with numerous updates while search efforts were underway for the victims.  He always ended his interviews by emphasizing the importance of wearing a Personal Flotation Device while on the water.

A few stats from the U. S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics for 2010. (copy of report here - 77 page PDF report takes a few moments to load)

  •  In 2010, the Coast Guard counted 4604 accidents that involved 672 deaths, 3153 injuries and approximately $35.5 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. 
  • Almost three-fourths of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those 88% were not reported as wearing a life jacket.
  • Eight out of every ten boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.
  • The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (46%), personal watercraft (20%), and cabin motorboats (14%). 

According to the Handbook of Mississippi Boating Laws And Responsibilities:

It's the Law: Required Equipment for Your Vessel

When preparing to go out on a vessel, the operator must check that the legally required equipment is on board.

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

  •  All vessels must carry one wearable U.S. Coast Guard– approved PFD (life jacket) for each person on board.
  •  Besides being U.S. Coast Guard–approved, all PFDs must be:
    •  In good and serviceable condition.
    •  Readily accessible, which means you are able to put the PFD on quickly in an emergency.
    • Of the proper size for the intended wearer. Sizing for PFDs is based on body weight and chest size.
  •  In addition to the above requirements, vessels 16 feet in length or longer must have one U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type IV PFD on board and readily accessible.
  • Children 12 years old and younger must wear a U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type I, II, or III PFD whenever underway in a vessel less than 26 feet in length.
  • Each person riding on or being towed behind a personal watercraft must wear a U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type I, II, or III PFD.

(A copy of The Mississippi Boating Handbook is available here)

So, please vote in our poll and share any comments you have on the topic. 

Editors note:  The Pearl River Valley Water Supply District receives NO money from fines levied for citations written on district property - whether issued by the Reservoir Patrol or any other law enforcement agency.  

The Rez News
Barnett Reservoir


Anonymous said...

The last drowning victim was wearing an inflatable life jacket but had not deployed it. The law needs to specify that it be a PFD not requiring any action to activate. Inflatables are useless when the victim is unconscious or panicked.

Anonymous said...

I think we're going too far in asking the government to try to save people from themselves. The law already states that those who CAN'T SWIM must wear a PFD at all times. That law didn't save one of the recent victims, who couldn't swim and went boating without a life jacket.

Plus, think about how hot it will be in the summer for those of who can swim. I say no to PFDs, and no to more government intrusion.

Kingfish said...

Um no. For a very good reason. Can't see the girls in swimsuits as well. That settles it right there.

KaptKangaroo said...

I'm with KF. You might as well kill off all fun on the Rez.

On a serious note, if you can't swim and you are not smart enough to put on a lifevest (my kids all wear them regardless) and a person self-selects from the gene pool, oh well.

A few things come to mind:
1. Here we go again with more laws.
2. Revenue generation for government.
3. You can't regulate stupidity.

Anonymous said...

I live on the Reservoir and i can tell you if something this stupid passes i will sell my waterfront home. 30 year boater with no accidents and on the water every weekend i can be.

Anonymous said...

Recreational boating fatalities in the States, five U. S. Territories, and the District of Columbia dropped to a record low of 676 in 2004, and then rose slightly in 2005 and 2006. In 2007, there were 685 boating fatalities reported by the CG Recreational Boating Accident Report Database (BARD), and in 2009, that figure rose to 736. The highest number of recorded boating fatalities was an incredible 1,750 in 1973, with 90% of those fatalities caused by drowning. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, 672 people died from boating related accidents in 2010 - a decrease of nearly 9 percent from 2009. There were 12,721,541 boats registered by the states in 2009 and out of over twelve million boats that is a pretty good record. This is the national total not Mississippi. While I agree that when circumstances dictate, wearing a life jacket is a good idea, I am not prepared to have it mandated by the government. If I am in a small boat operating at high speed or rough water, of course I’ll wear a PFD, that is common sense, and my decision. I would not enjoy being on a large houseboat, cruiser, or sailboat and be required by law to wear a PFD. That is just silly to me.

As a matter of fact there are more people killed by electricity each year than by boating accidents, electric shocks are responsible for about 1,000 deaths in the United States each year, or about 1 percent of all accidental deaths. Wall outlets are responsible for 15 percent of electric injuries and household appliance electrical cords and extension cords are reported to cause more than 63 percent of injuries. Using the same thought process, should we require everyone to wear rubber gloves all the time?

I believe the hassle factor would seriously deter people from using the Barnett Reservoir. You can’t fix being stupid by passing a law.

Mike Source said...

I asked my state rep how he would vote on this. He said absolutely no! His words were "where does it stop? When does government stop trying to make people do what they should do on their own?". I agree with him. He said he is for less government and this would only be more government that we don't need and we don't want.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the posts , however bass boats small fishing boats and all PWCs should be required to wear PFDs , we already have enough laws and officers out there . We boaters know of and/or have seen these bass boats come haulin out of some of the back waters up river and cut into traffic ( they have to make weigh in ) I have seen them cut across known shallow waters and hit stumps/logs and even land , get thrown from boats ( the two I saw had on PFDs )and even knock out the transom .

Anonymous said...

The current PDF law is fine.

Any new laws requiring mandatory vests, should address wearing kevlar vests while any age group travels through the Jackson city limits.

Anonymous said...

I say we require conceal and carry training of all ciitizens. Then we outlaw all guns. That will solve something, right?

Stupidity knows no bounds...