No excuses for no life jacket

Each council will run the trial for five days at different times during summer (Getty)
Each council will run the trial for five days at different times during summer (Getty)

Maritime NZ will be targeting "older males" who refuse to wear life jackets on the water this summer.

Eight councils will be trialling a new 'no excuses' policy for boaties not wearing or carrying lifejackets, and also those caught speeding on the water.

"We've had extensive education campaigns out there and they are working to some extent," Maritime NZ deputy director Lindsay Sturt told Paul Henry on Thursday.

"But there is a group of people out there who are clearly not heeding those messages. This is about targeting them. We're talking mainly about older males, 45-plus, who overestimate their abilities and underestimate the risk."

Each trial will last five days, and will be held at different times in different regions. Each council also has its own rules - for example, in Auckland skippers of boats shorter than 6m can waive the rule that says passengers have to wear life jackets.

This is in contrast the centrally coordinated rules around road travel and seatbelts.

"We're working with regional councils now to try and come up with a common approach," says Mr Sturt.

"That common approach is likely to require wearing of life jackets pretty much at all times."

He says it's a "sad indictment" that people need rules and the threat of fines to keep themselves safe.

"It's ridiculous. These guys out there - and we are talking largely about guys - need to get over their egos and think about wearing life jackets, and think about their families if they don't return home."

Keith Manch, director of Maritime NZ, says two-thirds of recreational boaties' deaths wouldn't happen if they were wearing life jackets.

One hundred and thirteen people drowned in New Zealand last year, with Water Safety NZ saying three-quarters of them were preventable.

Of the 113, 91 were men. Ten happened on powered boats, eight on non-powered and one on a sailboat.


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