US Army Corps of Engineers Life Jacket Policy Test


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From a "town hall" discussion on mandatory life jacket wear.

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  • Stark reality of burden of recreation management. In the past 12 years, the Corps dealt with more than 1900 water-related fatalities. Unfortunately, the majority (91%) of the victims were found not wearing a life jacket. The majority (47%) of our water-related fatalities happen when people exceed their swimming abilities usually outside of our designated swimming areas. Falls overboard are another major cause at 19% and collisions as shown here are less than 8%.
  • HQs didn’t require it, but Vicksburg opted to include a swimming in non-designated waters regulation, because 39% of their public fatalities fell into this category, which is more than their fatality rate of boating related incidents (36%). Swimming is actually a factor in over 60% of their fatalities.
  • Important throughout the process is the information that the Corps hopes to gain from our observations and covert measurements.
  • US Army Corps of Engineers Life Jacket Policy Test

    1. 1. US Army Corps of Engineers Life Jacket Policy Test Lynda Nutt National Association of State Boating Law Administrators Annual Conference September 2010
    2. 3. BOTTOM LINE: Since 1998, nearly 2,000 visitors have died on Corps-managed waters while engaged in water-based recreation: Greater than 90% of the victims were NOT wearing a life jacket.
    3. 4. “… explore the feasibility of establishing a life jacket wear policy on all US Army Corps of Engineers waters.” MG Don T. Riley Command Decision to Test
    4. 6. Vicksburg District Four Lakes in Mississippi Arkabutla, Sardis, Grenada and Enid Lakes
    5. 7. Pittsburgh District <ul><li>Limited policy actually implemented in 1991; adopted by State in1995 (Corps lakes) </li></ul><ul><li>Decline in enforcement activity over years </li></ul><ul><li>Brought into the study in 2008 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Baseline data showed very low rates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Minimal enforcement activity </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2009 wear rates fell below national voluntary rate </li></ul>
    6. 8. Sacramento District
    7. 9. Policy based on statistical trends <ul><li>Greatest risk groups: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Boaters in smallcraft </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Boaters underway </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Swimmers outside of designated swim beaches </li></ul></ul>
    8. 10. The Wear Rates <ul><li>JSI Study – Voluntary wear </li></ul><ul><li>JSI Study – Wear rates under policy </li></ul><ul><li>Validation study important for confidence in findings </li></ul><ul><li>Early findings show great success when policy exists AND is worked </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Through educational contacts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Through posted restriction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Through obvious LE presence </li></ul></ul>
    9. 11. Vicksburg District 2008 Baseline versus 2009-10 Cumulative Wear Rates
    10. 12. The Test <ul><li>WHAT IT IS ABOUT: </li></ul><ul><li>Increasing wear rates to effectively reduce fatalities </li></ul><ul><li>Implementation challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Finding the pro’s and con’s </li></ul><ul><li>Information gathering for USACE and others </li></ul><ul><li>WHAT IT IS NOT ABOUT: </li></ul><ul><li>Killing boating or any other water-based recreation </li></ul><ul><li>Taking away personal choices </li></ul><ul><li>Replacing education </li></ul>
    11. 13. What we’ve learned <ul><li>Advance coordination and continued communication is critical </li></ul><ul><li>Education still plays a role </li></ul><ul><li>Boaters will comply when faced with a policy; swimmers outside designated areas were tougher to regulate </li></ul><ul><li>Lives have been saved </li></ul>
    12. 14. <ul><li>Documented statements from survivors that despite educational messages, they would not have worn a life jacket without policy </li></ul>
    13. 15. USACE Test Will Document <ul><li>Wear rates pre-and-post policy test </li></ul><ul><li>Recreation effects </li></ul><ul><li>Budget and staffing implications </li></ul><ul><li>Public, Stakeholders and Congressional reactions/actions </li></ul><ul><li>Agency costs of not having policy </li></ul>
    14. 16. Our expectations <ul><li>Our test will be a catalyst for change </li></ul><ul><li>Recognition by Corps, US Coast Guard and partners of need for national policy </li></ul><ul><li>Acceptance of life jacket policy by boating public </li></ul><ul><li>To be able to make solid recommendations to HQs leadership </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it right for the Corps? </li></ul></ul>