Life jackets the key to boating safety: MI

Article Posted: May 21, 2003

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Life jackets the key to boating safety

As Michigan recognizes national Safe Boating Week and prepares for Memorial Day weekend, traditionally the start of the state’s boating season, state officials today reminded boaters that life jackets should be the rule for everyone.

A review of last year’s boating season shows 38 fatalities in 37 fatal accidents statewide. Of those, 22 people drowned. Only two of those boaters were wearing life jackets.

“There’s no question that life jackets save lives,” said DNR Law Division Captain Tim Nixon. “State law requires every boat to have one life-saving device on-board for every occupant of the boat. Common sense requires everyone to wear them at all times.”

The DNR’s 2002 reports indicate 228 recreational boating accidents resulted in 154 injuries. Only four of the fatal boating accidents involved alcohol as a factor. Open motorboats and personal watercraft were the leading vessels involved in accidents. July accounted for 81 accidents. Saturdays were the day of the week when 63 of the accidents occurred, and the vast majority of accidents (193) occurred after noon.

Michigan boasts more than 11,000 inland lakes, 36,000 miles of rivers, and shoreline on four of the Great Lakes. The state leads the nation in water recreation, with more than one million registered watercraft.

“Michigan is a water wonderland, and we want everyone to enjoy their time on the water this summer,” Nixon said. “The best way to ensure everyone has a good time is to play safely and use caution on the water. Conservation officers will be checking boats for the presence of life jackets, and encouraging everyone to wear them.”

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