BoatU.S study reveals reasons for lax PFD use

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Two hunter and angler focus groups commissioned by the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety & Clean Water have revealed the top-three reasons sportsmen don’t wear life jackets while boating, according to a BoatU.S. release today.

Chris Edmonston, director of Boating Safety Programs at the BoatU.S. Foundation, said the No. 1 reason given for not wearing a life jacket was lack of comfort.

“Hunters and anglers believe that life jackets are too hot, too uncomfortable and too bulky,” Edmonston said. “What is surprising, however, is their low awareness of the new class of lightweight, comfortable inflatable life jackets that have been on the market for several years now. Unfortunately, many sportsmen still see life jackets as those boxy orange foam ones they wore as kids.”

The second most common reason for not wearing a jacket was that this group rarely sees professionals on television wearing their life jackets.

“We believe that the media should lead by example,” Edmonston said. “Unfortunately, hunting and fishing shows don’t treat life jackets the same as, for example, home improvement shows, which routinely depict eye or ear protection.”

The third most common reason for not wearing a life jacket was that sportsmen feel comfortable with their swimming ability, “a dangerous mistake which has led to many deaths,” said Edmonston.

Why others do wear PFDs

However, other boaters and anglers do wear life jackets, and the study examined their reasoning as well. A close call on the water by a friend or family member was the number one reason given for PFD use.

The second reason given most often was to present a positive role model for children or grandchildren, and the third was that it’s simply a common sense precaution.

The focus groups that participated in the study were commissioned by the Sportsman’s Forum – a coalition of sporting organizations like the North American Fishing Club, B.A.S.S., Cabelas, and the BoatU.S. Foundation. The studies and subsequent analysis were conducted this spring by the research and polling organization Responsive Management.

The results of a second national telephone survey on boating and the media have also been released by the forum. This study looked at the media’s role in presenting boating information and messages, and its impact on viewers. The full reports of both studies, along with practical boating tips for hunters and anglers, are available as a free CD by e-mailing a name and mailing address to

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