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Old 10-06-2011, 12:14   #151
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Re: USCG Considers Mandatory PFD Use !

Well, I did more than post on CF. If anyone want's to borrow, this is what I told my elected officials in DC:

Sir,

The US Coast Guard is considering enacting regulations that will substantially increase mandatory use of life jackets or PFD's. I am writing to encourage you to work to oppose this poor idea.

I would like first to give you a bit of information on my experience. I have been an active boater since the late 1960's. I have owned boats continuously since the early 70's. I have crossed the Atlantic twice under sail. I wear PFD's when appropriate, including on small boats in inland waters (again when appropriate). I hold a "D" qualification from the Naval Academy, allowing me to sail with their offshore fleet as a safety officer.

I am not opposed to appropriate regulation. I support current regulations requiring safety gear, such as flares and life jackets. I support current regulations that require life jackets for certain activities such as PWCs and water skiing. I am, however, opposed to blanket, broad reaching regulations that inappropriately supplant common sense with unbending regulations. This proposed action is just this kind of move.

I would like to give you some examples of situations where an inflexible regulation becomes clearly inappropriate. These should provide you with talking points, or issues to consider.

* A substantial element of small boat use, which these proposed regulations would apply to, is the "yacht tender." These boats are small, around 5-10 feet. They are typically used to transit short distances (up to a few hundred yards), often at slow speeds, by competent boaters in very protected waters. On the face of it, it is obviously excessive. However, it is even worse when you consider that this use is often a means to transit to shore -- and once there, these PFD's need to be somehow secured from pilferage on a small open boat at a public landing. And finally, the crew, who may be returning from dinner in "nicer" clothing, will need to don PFD's that have been collecting water.

* Another scenario where it would be clearly inappropriate is where the vessel is legally "under way" but not truly so. Consider a boat that stopped for drift fishing, or swim call, or just to enjoy the day. The passengers would need to wear PFD's!

* Consider a swimming session. Swimmers in the water would not need PFD's, but the instant they stepped aboard they would. They would then take them off so they could jump overboard again. A person could legally tow his boat by swimming, but would need a PFD to get on the boat! And yes, I have been in sailboat races where the boats moved so slowly that the crew would jump overboard to cool off.

I would like to compare this type of regulation to seat belt laws. In seat belt laws, a significant number of drivers had voluntarily adopted these laws. In my experience, I know of not one single boater that wears a PFD 90% or more of the time when on board. I know many who wear them when needed. I would ask that you try and find boaters who wear them a very large percentage of time -- and then clarify that they use the kinds of boats the regulations would apply to. Law enforcement officers often wear them, but they are not usually drift fishing on a 95 degree day. Jet ski riders use them, but they aren't rowing a small dingy 100 yards to shore.

I would also ask that you look at the statistics. Just because some number of people die each year doesn't mean that all of them would have been saved. Also, many of the fatalities are in specific categories -- drunk, inexperienced, etc -- and making all boaters suffer from the actions of a few is not appropriate.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss this matter further.
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Old 10-06-2011, 13:22   #152
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Re: USCG Considers Mandatory PFD Use !

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Originally Posted by sailingharry View Post
Oddly, it seems the rules as currently being tossed around may not require a PFD on at least some boats with engines, but will require one on ANY human-powered boats! That's kind of backwards -- lots of opportunities to get hurt with an engine (speed, boat can keep going, props can cut, etc) and much fewer such opportunities when paddling. Not 100% safe, mind you, but safe-ER.

Harry
The problem with this logic is most man-powered boats (e.g. rentals) are operated by incompetent sailors (less experienced). Whereas, the larger boats are usually operated by people who've been out in the water many hours.

But, if one is prone to falling overboard they should be wearing a PFD. It still should be a matter of choice (natural selection)! The problem with all these rules is it protects the stupid, so now we're breeding a new larger generation of stupid people.
Duh! Why do I need to think/reason? I have all these safety features! A false sense of security!

All though my PFD does keep me warm on the cooler daze.
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Old 13-06-2011, 16:21   #153
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We need to lead on this...

While most members have the experience to assess whether a life jacket is needed the regulations are not aimed at us.

This news item illustrates the sort of situation where the lifejacket laws have strong relevance.

I don't think the coastguard, the police or any of the rescue organisations have any interest in restricting our personal freedoms. They just want stories like this to have a happy ending.
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Old 13-06-2011, 16:47   #154
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Re: We need to lead on this...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boracay View Post
While most members have the experience to assess whether a life jacket is needed the regulations are not aimed at us.

This news item illustrates the sort of situation where the lifejacket laws have strong relevance.

I don't think the coastguard, the police or any of the rescue organisations have any interest in restricting our personal freedoms. They just want stories like this to have a happy ending.

That is tragic and I think everyone feels for that loss.

But;


Quote:
Acting Inspector Mann said that when the three set out it was raining with winds of up to 25 knots. ''Personally I'm perplexed why you would go out in those conditions, especially if you wanted to go camping. They were rather appalling conditions.''





Where were the parents? Who is really responsible here? If there was "the law" about jackets would they have followed it?

A wonderful example defending the argument for the law that is usless.

Like someone said, "You just can't fix stupid."

Quote:

''He said other boats saw them and wouldn't stop to help,'' she said.

That is tragic in itself.
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Old 17-06-2011, 05:01   #155
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Re: USCG Considers Mandatory PFD Use !

USCG publishes 2010 boater accident statistics (Summary page reprinted below with bold highlights added by me. Click HERE to download the 2010 PDF download entire report.)

2010 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
• 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.
• The fatality rate was 5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. This rate represents a 6.9% decrease from last year’s fatality rate of 5.8 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.
• Compared to 2009, the number of accidents decreased 2.66%, the number of deaths decreased 8.70% and the number of injuries decreased 6.10%.
• Almost three-fourths of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, eighty-eight (88) percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket.
• Only nine percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction. Only six percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction from a NASBLA-approved course provider.
Eight out of every ten boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.
• Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed, and alcohol rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.
Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 19% of the deaths.
• Twenty-one children under age thirteen lost their lives while boating in 2010. 42% of the children who died in 2010 died from drowning. 44% of those who drowned were wearing a life jacket even though only half of them were required to do so by state law.
• The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (46%), personal watercraft (20%), and cabin motorboats (14%).
• The 12,438,926 recreational vessels registered by the states in 2010 represent a 2.2% decrease from last year when 12,721,541 recreational vessels were registered.

this chart from the report illustrates why the USCG is considering a mandatory PFD rule for vessels under 18':
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Old 17-06-2011, 07:01   #156
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Re: USCG Considers Mandatory PFD Use !

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Originally Posted by doug86 View Post
Almost three-fourths of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, eighty-eight (88) percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket.
** I would argue that this statistic supports NOT wearing a PFD. I think, based upon an unscientific observation, that the boating public non-wear rate is greater than 88 percent.

Only nine percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction. Only six percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction from a NASBLA-approved course provider.
** NASBLA courses are nearly worthless. A friend's son took the Maryland course and got his MD boating card. On the day of his test, right after he passed, I asked him who has right of way, a power boat or a sailboat. He said that sailboats have no special rights.

Eight out of every ten boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.
** Again, this figure is not surprising, and in fact may support stating that small boats are safer. My gut tells me that 80 percent of boaters are in boats under 21 feet. Certainly not a statistic of great moment!

Twenty-one children under age thirteen lost their lives while boating in 2010. 42% of the children who died in 2010 died from drowning. 44% of those who drowned were wearing a life jacket even though only half of them were required to do so by state law.
** This statistic is most interesting. 44% of drowning victims WERE wearing their vests? Does that mean that a 100% vest compliance rate will only cut drownings by half? This is startling (and I mean that sincerely!).

The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (46%), personal watercraft (20%), and cabin motorboats (14%).
** If 80% of involved vessels are powered, why are they considering regulating rowboats? Also, anybody with a brain can tell that sailboats are far more dangerous to operate than any powered boat -- how come sailboats aren't in that list? Perhaps it has to do with "training?"
Harry
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Old 17-06-2011, 09:53   #157
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Re: USCG Considers Mandatory PFD Use !

This is why the USCG is not allowed to run the GAO:

"Compared to 2009, the number of accidents decreased 2.66%,"
Without knowing if the rise in gasoline prices and the increase in bankruptcies and tight wallets also decreased the number of boater-hours on the water, all the rest is meaningless. There's no comparable basis for the statistics. Any "Statistics 101" course would have taught them that.



"• Only nine percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction. Only six percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction from a NASBLA-approved course provider."
--Same mistake and now they've compounded it. If roughly 1/10th of the deaths occurred on boats where someone took the safety course...what percent of the entire "boats" had someone who took the safety course? They make no attempt to show that the percentage of deaths is ay lower among the people who took the course, versus the general boating population.

" *Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents*; it was listed as the leading factor in 19% of the deaths."
--I would argue that's an erroneous conclusion, and that INSUFFICIENT alcohol use was the problem. Like the t-shirt says, "one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor!" Require all drinks to be doubles, and the operators will never make it back to the boats, much less be able to turn the starter keys.

"• Twenty-one children under age thirteen"
--Ah, minors. Let's confuse the issues of parental supervision and whether someone should call an agency to take children away from irresponsible parents. This should not be confused with a water safety issue, parenting is not a USCG mandate.

"• The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (46%), personal watercraft (20%), and cabin motorboats (14%)."
--Gee, maybe that's because anyone with a buck can buy one and operate it? With zero training? And that's the way the public wants it?
How about putting a carrot out instead of a stick, requiring insurance and allowing the carriers to charge a 500% surcharge on policies to untrained unlicensed unexperienced operators? Who would still get their choice, either prove your competence, or open your wallet.

"• The 12,438,926 recreational vessels registered by the states in 2010 represent a 2.2% decrease from last year when 12,721,541 recreational vessels were registered."
--WHich might mean 2.2% were sunk, burned, or scrapped for all we know. More meaningless numbers meant to provide the illusion of statistical significane.

I REALLY HATE THE INEPT USE OF ALLEGED STATISTICS.

By their logic, I can prove that drinking water causes death. Everyone who has ever died, has drunk water! The conclusion is just as logical as their's are. And equally invalid.

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Old 17-06-2011, 10:52   #158
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Re: USCG Considers Mandatory PFD Use !

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Originally Posted by delmarrey View Post
This one I would wear a PFD!

.
I forget exactly what year it was, (late 80's or early 90's) we were out sailing one of those rather knarly, cold days with big gusts and wind shifts.

We were wearing our life vests and drinking cocoa when we heard the USCG responding to a capsized boat off Edmonds.

We found out later that it was Harrison Jones and his boat, "Running With Scissors".

He told us later that he'd finally found where the ragged edge was, and he'd been there many times before, but hadn't realized how close he'd been to capsize!

He was pretty hard core about wearing a PFD on his boat.
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Old 17-06-2011, 11:14   #159
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Re: USCG Considers Mandatory PFD Use !

To Harry and Hellosailor,

My posting of the USCG report wasn't an effort to support the idea of mandatory lifejackets. However, both of you responded pretty quickly to the summary quote I pasted.

- Have either of you read the entire report?

- Would either of you be willing to volunteer to sit on the USCG safety advisory counsel?
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Old 17-06-2011, 12:34   #160
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Re: USCG Considers Mandatory PFD Use !

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- Have either of you read the entire report?
My initial reaction to the report summaries I have seen (here and elsewhere) was very similar to hellosailor's. I have now skimmed the report.

As an analysis of accidents, it's a great report. It breaks them down into useful categories, and even has statistics that help understand how the typical accidents evolve. This is very good stuff if you are trying to understand marine accidents.

This report however is very poor at helping understand marine safety. The raw data is there in the back of the report, showing the numbers of registered boats (essentially flat since 1996), the proportions of the various types of boat, and the fatality rates (.0065% in 1995-1999, dropping to 0.0055% in 2010). The non-fatal accident rates aren't given, but the data is there to figure it out.

The emphasis of the report is accident analysis. I think the sound-bite headlines, which focus on the absolute number of accidents, is not particularly useful for establishing marine safety policy.

I actively hate these kind of sound-bite statistics. When I hear that the incidence of some rare disease is up by 50% (with no additional data provided) it really ticks me off. What can we possibly do with that information? It often turns out that what actually happened was that in a population of 300 million, there were six people affected, where in the previous year there were only four.

Back to the boating statistics, the accident rate is actually falling. There are still people dying, and no doubt there are many ways to improve the numbers. PFDs do save lives. It's not an evil law. The mandatory PFD rules will probably reduce drownings. On the other hand, so would outlawing boats.

It's complicated. If you think it's not, I admire your purity but suggest that very few things in this world are black or white.
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Old 17-06-2011, 13:56   #161
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Re: USCG Considers Mandatory PFD Use !

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Originally Posted by doug86 View Post
To Harry and Hellosailor,

My posting of the USCG report wasn't an effort to support the idea of mandatory lifejackets. However, both of you responded pretty quickly to the summary quote I pasted.

- Have either of you read the entire report?

- Would either of you be willing to volunteer to sit on the USCG safety advisory counsel?

I hadn't read the report. I've just browsed through it (not complete, but better than 1/2 hour of looking). Fascinating collection of data, presented in many different ways. Probably much of it useful in some fashion, although I am not sure how. For instance, I've learned that those who take state boater ed courses account for far more deaths than those who take USPS courses. Or, that the number of accidents and/or deaths increases as operator experience increases, until you hit 500 or more hours of operation and then it decreases. Neither of those facts lead to a reasonable conclusion, but they are presented (and I don't doubt that they are right).

I've also learned that 40% of kayak drownings were wearing PFD's, and 15% of all drownings were wearing PFD's, leading to serious questions about the value of PFD's (and I'm not being cynical here -- I'm genuinely surprised).

One bit of data that is interesting is accidents. Until 2000, accident rate was constant. Between 2000 and 2004, accidents went down 30%. Since 2004, accidents have been constant. And throughout that time, deaths have been steady (despite a 30% reduction in accidents). What happened between 2000 and 2004, and why didn't deaths change? Was there a change in reporting methods?

I will say that having read the report, there is almost nothing of value as related to the subject at hand! It provides no data whatsoever to support mandatory PFD useage. In fact, I would say that while there is a lot of data, the data support almost no conclusions of any sort.

With regard to the sitting on NBSAC, the current roster of 22 members leads one to surmise that you must represent a manufacturer, a boating organization, or a state to be a member. I see only one member who is listed as "public member." That may be a reflection on the level of effort required -- if you aren't paid by your employer to do that kind of work, you don't have the time to do the job.

Harry
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Old 17-06-2011, 15:17   #162
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Re: USCG Considers Mandatory PFD Use !

One more point about the statistics: (Just glancing at the tables and figures in the report) the numbers don't appear to account for time on the water, but instead, only the number of registered boats. As much as I would like to believe that the accident rate is improving, the reduction in accidents could just as easily be because the boats spent more time on the trailer, in the garage, or in the slip -- we just can't tell from the data that has been presented.
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Old 17-06-2011, 16:04   #163
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Re: USCG Considers Mandatory PFD Use !

Well, I'm glad that at least your guyz have examined the report. I have to agree that it's a bunch of data that leads to very little conclusions.

Quote:
I will say that having read the report, there is almost nothing of value as related to the subject at hand!
Without passing a personal judgement either way, I believe the USCG uses this exact data to make their policy recommendations, which makes this report very much related to the subject of this thread. Yes, their conclusions may be completely wrong, but at least we can see the data that they are basing their conclusions on. So in that sense I think this is on point.
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Old 17-06-2011, 16:08   #164
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Re: USCG Considers Mandatory PFD Use !

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With regard to the sitting on NBSAC, the current roster of 22 members leads one to surmise that you must represent a manufacturer, a boating organization, or a state to be a member. I see only one member who is listed as "public member."
They usually only have one or two "public" members, that is true. They also meet at least twice per year, and the public is invited to attend the meetings. Maybe some of you who have expertise with statistics could attend and make some valuable contributions?
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Old 17-06-2011, 16:31   #165
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Fitting Children with PFDs...

We have very few children aboard Boracay.

We did take out some friends with their children, having brought lifejackets (PFD type 1 - full floatation) that complied with the relevant Australian standard for them.

I was surprised to find that the life jackets did not fit as their children were smaller than anticipated. It could easily have happened, if they were to fall in the water and raise their arms, that they would fell through and out of the life jacket.

As I found when I tried on a few PFDs for use in my 7' dinghy. Lifejackets are not one size fits all. They need to be chosen on the basis of rated weight, and the fit needs to be checked by trying them on.

My belief is that the standard for childrens' lifejackets needs to be reviewed to ensure that a childs life jacket fits a wide range of body types.
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