Coast Guard Makes Lifejackets Mandatory
The U.S. Coast Guard has formally stepped into the lifejacket debate with a
new regulation that went into effect on Christmas Eve.
According to the new regulation, all children under 13 years of age are now
required to wear Coast Guard-approved lifejackets while aboard recreational
vessels underway, except when the children are below decks or in an enclosed
According to Coast Guard officials, the new rule was created to address the
problem of childhood drownings while boating. Between 1995 and 2001, 210
children under the age of 13 died while boating; 121 of these deaths were
from drowning. Most of these deaths could have been prevented if the child
had been wearing a properly fitting lifejacket, the Coast Guard said in a
This rule affects only those states that have not established requirements,
by statute or rule, for children to wear lifejackets. For the remaining
states, the rule recognizes and adopts the existing state regulation, even
if it is less stringent, the press release said.
Penalties for a boat operator who fails to have all children under the age
of 13 wear a lifejacket are similar to those for failing to have lifejackets on board.
Penalties may be assessed up to a maximum of $1,100 for
The United States Coast Guard published the Interim Rule in the Federal
Register on June 24, and, in cooperation with state boating safety agencies,
has been conducting a six-month education and public awareness phase end