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State boating issues need to be addressed N.Y. tragedy may serve as wake-up call

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The boating tragedy in Lake George, N.Y., that killed 20 people on Sunday, including two Whitmore Lake-area residents, raises important questions in its aftermath that lawmakers and regulators in states throughout the nation should speedily address.

In Michigan, for example, as in New York and 45 other states, adults are not required to wear life preservers when their vessel is in motion.

Certainly for the elderly, the infirm and others who can't swim, requiring that they be worn seems reasonable in craft that can quickly capsize or sink. Just having life preservers readily available isn't good enough.

"Readily available'' is the safety standard now in effect in Michigan.    more...

 



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As a USCG licensed captain and active in the passenger/charter industry on the Great Lakes, I implore lawmakers not to require that life jackets be worn. Aside from issues based in political philosophy, ie, the loss of still more personal freedoms and ability to assess and protect oneself from obvious risk, the real issue is that the statistics for boating fatalities, when weighed against the number of persons that go boating in any given season, lead even the most politically liberal or most cautious in all matters nautical to conclude that life jackets are not the problem. Other ideas rasised, such as higher standards for stability, additional crew and drug testing are all helpful; standards the Coast Guard already meet on the the Great Lakes. The regulations for inland lakes should be made more stringent, but wearing life jackets is simply overkill - a measure that would dramatically reduce the numbers of passengers desirous of enjoying a short excursion on what should be a safe vessel with a licensed, straight captain and competent crew.10/7/2005 7:40:23 AM
FGW
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