1998 Program Enhancements, Initiatives, and New Laws
A. Life Jacket Use
In conjunction with Boat U.S., the Department continues the Life Jacket Partner Program. Law enforcement officers loan life jackets to families on the water with children who do not have them.
The Department provides law enforcement personnel with T-shirts and other rewards for distribution to children who are "caught" wearing their life jacket. This program has been well received by parents. These incentive materials are tools for marine patrol officers to make positive contact with boaters. The officers are able to reward safe behavior and also gain the opportunity to share other safe boating information and promote discussion on other boating safety issues.
The Department continues a radio ad campaign promoting the use of life jackets. This safety message is being heard on radio stations throughout California where accidents are the most prevalent.
The Department continues to place billboards in areas where accidents are most prevalent. The billboards inform boaters about the importance of wearing a life jacket when boating.
The Department emphasizes the use of life jackets at safety fairs throughout the state, through the annual Safe and Wise Water Ways poster contest for children, and at National Safe Boating Week events.
B. Personal Watercraft Safety
The Department is developing a new PWC Practical Handling Course. This course focuses on PWC operation and safe boat handling. The curriculum is designed for operators of all ages and will be available to the general public. A critical hands-on learning experience is a key component to this course. It is designed to be incorporated into existing safety programs offered by organizations such as the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the U.S. Power Squadrons, marine enforcement agencies, and aquatic centers. This course should be available next spring.
The Department is producing a 30-second public service announcement on the subject of personal watercraft safety for distribution to television stations statewide this summer.
C. Youth Operator Safety
This year, the AquaSMART Boating program for high school students will be distributed to schools throughout California. This course incorporates key safety concerns identified by accident statistics. Four types of boating are addressed: personal watercraft, powerboating, sailing, and paddling. The course is available to schools, aquatic centers and youth organizations.
The Department will continue to inform boaters of the law requiring operators to be at least 16 years of age to operate most vessels alone.
The Department's AquaSMART curriculum for youth programs includes information on the dangers of alcohol and drug use, especially when boating. Zero tolerance is emphasized for all persons.
D. Alcohol Use
The Department continues a radio ad campaign promoting the dangers of drinking alcohol while boating. This safety message is being heard on radio stations throughout California where accidents are the most prevalent.
The Department is producing a 30-second public service announcement on the dangers of mixing alcohol and boating for distribution to television stations statewide this summer.
The Department will continue to notify law enforcement agencies statewide about alcohol use among fatalities and encourage them to strengthen their educational and enforcement efforts in this area. The Department will reinforce this message at all training classes offered for law enforcement.
The Department will continue to encourage all aquatic centers and groups receiving funding through the Aquatic Grant Program to warn people attending boating classes about the dangers of drinking alcohol while boating.
E. Other Safety Program Enhancements and Initiatives
The Department plans to produce a short video regarding new boating laws.
The Department will begin work on a brochure promoting the importance of taking hands-on boating courses to improve safety on the water. The brochure will identify aquatic centers throughout the State where a variety of boating courses are provided.
The Department will continue to warn boaters about hazardous water conditions on California's rivers, especially during spring and early summer when water levels are high from snow pack run-off.
The Law Enforcement unit continues to conduct the Accident Reconstruction Course on water in order to improve realism. Many law enforcement officers believe this course helps them reconstruct accidents more accurately.
F. New Laws