Life jacket use could cut recreational boating fatalities by 80%: study

Washington – Use of life jackets could decrease the risk of recreational boating deaths by 80 percent, according to a recent study.

Researchers analyzed fatality statistics from 2008 to 2011 from the Recreational Boating Accident Report Database. They estimated that 1,721 deaths could have been prevented during that time had boaters been required to wear life jackets.

All watercraft must carry life jackets, but some boaters neglect to wear the vests because the devices are uncomfortable or are perceived as a sign of weakness, the Society for Risk Analysis states. Other boaters may wear life jackets only when conditions on the water are difficult.

The researchers said a mandatory life jacket policy “would reduce the percentage of drowning victims compared to other causes of death.”

The study was published online July 24 in Risk Analysis.