Boatie death rate down thanks to lifejackets

  • 27/07/2017
Boating
Maritime NZ statistics show that 16 boaties died in recreational accidents in the year ended June. Photo credit: Getty

The wearing of lifejackets has been linked to the lack of increase in boating fatalities over the past year despite more and more New Zealanders going out on the water.

Maritime NZ statistics show that 16 boaties died in recreational accidents in the year ended June.

The number was the same as the previous 12 months and down on 31 for 2014-15.

Maritime NZ director Keith Manch says years of work by the Safer Boating Forum has focused on changing boaties' behaviour.

He says it's known that nearly 90 percent of boaties have lifejackets and three-quarters of them are wearing them always or most of the time.

"It is highly likely that this factor is contributing to the decreasing fatality rate," he said.

Mr Manch said the number of boaties is growing - more than 1.4 million people went out in a recreational craft last summer - pushing up the number of inexperienced people on the water.

He said it was important they got the basic safer boating messages, such as a lifejacket being their No.1 piece of safety equipment

A VHF radio (which a quarter of boaties had) and a distress beacon (18 percent) were the best emergency communications to take on board.

Mr Manch said the latest figures continued the pattern that most fatalities involved men over 40, in craft under six metres long and not wearing a lifejacket.

Of the 16 people who died in recreational boating accidents in 2016-17:

  • 15 were men
  • 11 were over 40, three were under 40, two were of unknown age
  • 10 were in vessels under six metres long
  • eight were not wearing a lifejacket, one did have one on.

NZN