Survey shows boating safety lessons are being adopted

08 March 2023

People appear to be getting the message about safety on the water, according to the latest Maritime NZ-commissioned research. An Ipsos poll of 1009 people, 509 of them boaties, showed that more people were using safety equipment out on the water, giving them a better chance of making it home safe and well.

The survey, conducted between November 28 and December 7 last year, revealed a big jump in people ensuring children on board their craft were wearing correctly fitting lifejackets.

The figure was up nine percentage points, at 83, from the previous quarter.

Matt Wood, Maritime NZ’s Principal Advisor Recreational Craft, says the good news doesn’t stop there.

Other figures show a rise in safety equipment use across the board, including lifejackets (74%, up from 72% in the same Spring quarter a year earlier), cell phones in a waterproof bag (55%, 52%), a waterproof torch (27%, 24%), and use of beacons (23% in 2022, 20% in 2021).

These positive numbers reinforce what Maritime NZ and local harbourmasters are seeing on the water.

The No Excuses campaign of compliance checks, involving thousands of boaties around the country, show 94% were carrying life jackets, and 80% were wearing them.

Matt Wood is pleased that people are getting the message through campaigns and projects run by Maritime NZ and Safer Boating NZ, a forum representing various groups working to improve safety in recreational boating.

Those campaigns include Kia Mataara, which encourages all people involved in water activity to know the ways of the water before letting go of the land.

“It’s about making sure everyone is wearing a correctly fitting lifejacket, taking two forms of communication, and checking the forecast before you head out,” says Matt.

The numbers are great, he says, but “we want everyone to ensure they and others are safe on the water”.

However, he was disappointed that the No Excuses campaign was highlighting speeding breaches when other water users were nearby.

“Boaties should be travelling at less than 5 knots 200m within the shore or near a dive boat and within 50m of swimmers and other boats,” he says.

“We want people to enjoy themselves on the water this Summer, but we also want them all to make it back to shore alive.”

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