In early May, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ended its
four year study of a potential lifejacket wear requirement for adults on all
its lakes. The study looked into the feasibility of establishing a mandatory
life jacket policy on Corps-managed waters. According to the policy study, wear
rates at the test lakes significantly increased and fatalities decreased.
However, the study recommends that no additional regulation
be added that would require life jackets be worn while recreating on all Corps-managed
waters at this time. Current authority
allows the District Commanders to set life jacket requirement policies. The study states many Corps areas are
patrolled by other agency personnel and state authorities who would not
necessarily be able to enforce Corps policy. Combined with staffing concerns in
some Corps regions, this could result in inconsistent enforcement and greater
confusion by the public. Ultimately, the study found that while life jacket
policy can be an effective tool for increasing survival rates on Corps waters,
the policy rapidly loses its value if not regularly and aggressively enforced.
Instead, it suggested that a "selective expansion” of policy
should be considered in Districts where boating fatality rates run high,
including field water safety education that focuses on the greatest at risk
MRAA strongly and aggressively opposes a mandatory adult
life jacket wear policy.