[Public-list] forum to discuss mandatory wear of personal flotation devices

George Dinwiddie gdinwiddie at alberg30.org
Tue Jun 1 17:20:41 PDT 2004

Mr. Holloway,

I regret that I will be unable to attend the NTSB forum.  However, I 
would like to provide some input on this topic.  The fact that the NTSB 
has placed such a requirement on it's "most wanted" list prior to 
conducting research, tell me that my input will probably be in vain, as 
the Board has already decided what is appropriate.  Nevertheless, I 
would like to raise the following issues.

1. The Coast Guard statistics reported do no say how many active boaters 
there were in 2002, but I am sure that 750 boaters is a very, very small 
percentage of them.  Boating has excellent safety numbers, in spite of 
the fact that some lives are lost.  Zero fatalities is an unrealistic 
goal, and could only be achieved by eliminating boating altogether.

2. Given that laws cannot force people to take action, but can only 
punish them for not doing so, it is a sure thing that not all of the 
boaters who drowned without wearing PFDs would have been saved no matter 
what the law said.  In fact, I would hazard a guess that, considering 
the number of boating accidents that take place with vessels out in 
conditions that a prudent mariner would consider manifestly unsafe for 
the given vessel, or that take place with vessels operated in a 
manifestly unsafe manner, it is likely that few of these 637.5 boaters 
would have been wearing lifejackets even if required by law.  Therefore, 
the estimate that 450 lives could have been saved if these boaters had 
been wearing PFDs does *not* imply that 450 lives could have been saved 
by passing such a law.


    George Dinwiddie

   When I remember bygone days                         George Dinwiddie
   I think how evening follows morn;            gdinwiddie at alberg30.org
   So many I loved were not yet dead,           http://www.Alberg30.org
   So many I love were not yet born.
                                             'The Middle' by Ogden Nash

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