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Contact: June Iljana
(916) 651-5692
e-mail: pubinfo.dbw.ca.gov

May 17, 2006

May 20-26 is National Safe Boating Week: "There's No Reason Not To Wear It!"

SACRAMENTO – Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has joined the U.S. Congress in declaring the week of May 20-26 Safe Boating Week. The Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) is hosting activities during National Safe Boating Week to remind Californians “There’s no reason not to wear it!”

“This campaign works to promote a vital safety message that, if heeded, could prevent hundreds of fatalities each year nationwide,” said Raynor Tsuneyoshi, director of DBW. “If every boater would wear a life jacket while on the water, boating-related deaths could be reduced by as much as 85 percent.” Modern life jackets are more comfortable, more attractive, and more wearable than years past and are critical safety equipment for boaters.

Last year in California, 57 people died in boating-related accidents and 425 people were injured. Most boating fatalities occur due to drowning after a fall overboard or capsizing. The vast majority of these fatalities and injuries were caused by human error or poor judgment and not by the boat, equipment, or environmental factors. Boating fatalities account for the second highest number of transportation related fatalities, surpassed only by automobile accidents.

 “With almost a million registered boats using California’s waterways, we see a proportionate number of boating accidents each year due to operator inattention, alcohol consumption and excessive speed,”  Tsuneyoshi said. “National Safe Boating Week encourages all who are involved in boating - organizations and individuals – to focus our attention on improving safety.”

According to a U.S. Coast Guard report, 63 percent of California’s boaters have never taken a boating safety course. “We know that 38% of boating accidents are collisions with other vessels, so if operators took a boating education course and learned the rules of the road, fatalities would go down,” Tsuneyoshi said.

Throughout the week, DBW is partnering with aquatic centers, businesses and organizations to hold events that promote boating safety and the use of lifejackets. Events include life jacket trade-in days, hands-on boating instruction, safety demonstrations and open houses at some of the most popular waterways in the state. For a complete list of events and details, visit www.dbw.ca.gov.

National Safe Boating Week is an annual educational campaign coordinated by the National Safe Boating Council (www.safeboatingcouncil.org) during the week before Memorial Day. The Department of Boating and Waterways promotes on-the-water safety and helps develop convenient public access to the waterways through programs funded by vessel registration fees, boating fuel tax dollars and boating facility construction loan payments.