Thursday, August 13, 2009

Keep Life Jackets Optional

Yesterday the Ontario Provincial Police issued a press release calling for laws to make wearing life jackets mandatory when boating:

In the wake of a number of boating tragedies on Ontario waterways, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Commissioner Julian Fantino supports a review by
Transport Canada of legislation to make the wearing of life jackets or personal flotation devices (PFD) mandatory when boating.

A total of 23 persons lost their lives in 2008 while boating on waterways policed by the OPP and this year 20 people have perished. Only 2 casualties this season were wearing life jackets or PFDs. Since 2000, 350 people have lost their lives in boating incidents and of them, only 13 per cent were wearing life jackets.

"The vast majority of boaters are good, law-abiding people. We know that mandatory life jacket or PFD use will start saving lives immediately," Commissioner Fantino said. "It's already been a summer filled with needless tragedy for many families. Many of these deaths would have been prevented," added Fantino.

Saving lives is commendable, but I really hope this law doesn't come to pass. The law already requires a life jacket for each person in the boat. If there's any question at all about safety then most people would voluntarily put on their life jackets.

In most cases boating is a recreational activity that involves nice weather and calm water, it's more than rational to want to spend some of that time on the boat soaking up the sun and a hot, bulky life vest doesn't exactly lend itself to getting a tan or enjoying a breeze on a hot summer day. 20 deaths are 20 too many, but this must be an absolutely miniscule fraction of the number of people on the water each summer. This is one area where the risk should be up to the individual. Boaters who choose not to wear a life jacket aren't putting anyone else at risk and they are simply maximizing their enjoyment of the great outdoors. Let them be.


johndoe124 said...

It never ceases to amaze me how agreeable bureaucrats and politicians are to taking away our freedom of choice. One has to wonder by what authority they force us to modify behaviour that only has personal consequences. They are no better than tyrants.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with both Patrick and johndoe124.
Why is the police "services" getting directly involved in legislation?
Any bets as to how many years helmets for kids being allowed to enter neighbourhood parks or maybe even leaving the house will start being discussed as new 'safety' legislation?