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National Safe Boating Week is underway with fresh focus

Each year over 140 million Americans take to the water on a boat. Making sure they get back to the dock safely is the idea behind National Safe Boating Week May 18 – 24.

Boating safety advocates across the U.S., including the marine industry, work together with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to improve awareness of basic boating safety best practices.

The White House also issued a proclamation from the desk of President Trump to encourage boating safety through events and activities taking place all across the country.

“This week, we are reminded that by taking just a few extra precautions, we can dramatically reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring on the water,” reads the proclamation in part. “By acquainting yourself, your children, and your friends with safe boating practices before operating or boarding a boat, we can all enjoy the beauty of our Nation’s waters safely and responsibly. Late last year, Congress approved the Coast Guard Authorization Act – which included several provisions that directly improve the safety of recreational boaters across the country."

NMMA is working to ensure that the next Coast Guard Authorization Act continues to directly improve boating safety. Those priorities include mandating the wearing of engine-cut off devices for vessels under 26 feet, while underway, something that advocates claim would reduce prop-related incidents by half.

In 2017, the Coast Guard counted 172 accidents in which at least one person was struck by a propeller, resulting in 31 deaths and 162 injuries.

An industry panel consisting of Dave Marlow, director of product integrity and government affairs for Brunswick, John Adey, president, American Boat and Yacht Council, and Chris Edmonston, president, BoatUS Foundation, spoke at a boating safety breakout session at the recent American Boating Congress.

They said with wider adoption of a kill switch, so many of these fatalities and injuries simply would not happen.

Captain Scott L. Johnson, chief of the Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety and national coordinator for the National Recreational Boating Safety Program also spoke at ABC. He gave the attendees a sneak peek at a few key 2018 boating accident statistics, since the full report for the year has not yet been issued.

Captain Johnson said there were 629 boating-related deaths in 2018, a 2.7% decrease from the previous year. And there were 2,342 reported injuries, a 2.5% decrease from 2017.

He also reported that life jacket wear rate was up last year, to the second-highest rate ever.

Additional information on National Safe Boating Week can be accessed at SafeBoatingCampaign.com and by following @BoatingCampaign and the #SafeBoatingWeek hashtag on social media.

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