Christelle Viauroux, Economics, Finds that Mandatory Life Jacket Use Could Reduce Recreational Boating Deaths by 80 Percent

Christelle ViaurouxA new study by Christelle Viauroux, an associate professor of economics, found that requiring recreational boat operators to wear life jackets would increase the odds of surviving a boating accident by 80 percent. Viauroux conducted the study with Ali Gungor of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Standards Evaluation and Analysis Division and the findings were published in Risk Analysis.

The researchers used data from 2008 to 2011 from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Accident Report Database (BARD) and compared life jacket use to other factors affecting fatalities in recreational boating.

A major goal of the research was to assess the impact of a mandatory life jacket policy on the recreational boating fatality rate. “However, such a major and controversial policy cannot be implemented without a thorough investigation of life jacket effectiveness. A lot of the work focusing on reducing recreational boating fatalities lacked the availability of life jacket use data,” the authors wrote in their published findings.

The research recently received news coverage in U.S. News Health. The story noted that from 2008 to 2011, making life jacket use mandatory would have likely led to a 20 percent increase in life jacket use by recreational boaters and “the researchers estimated the increased life jacket use would have saved more than 1,700 boaters and more than 1,200 drowning victims.” Read “Mandatory life jacket laws could reduce boating deaths” in U.S. News.

Read more about Christelle Viauroux’s research and a press release announcing the findings of the study.