Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is directing the state's Department of Natural Resources to draft a bill to raise the age at which children are required to wear personal flotation devices.
Under the new legislation, any child under the age of 13 would be required to wear a PFD; the current age is 7.
"Raising the age at which a child is required to wear a life vest is paramount to ensuring the safety of our children out on the water," O'Malley said in a statement.
Current law states any child under the age of 7 must wear a PFD on a recreational boat 21 feet or smaller unless the boat is moored or anchored, or the child is below deck in an enclosed cabin. If the General Assembly passes the new legislation, the age would be raised from 7 to 13 starting July 10, 2010.
"Despite increased outreach, education and enforcement, Maryland has had 15 boating-related drownings since January - including an 11-year-old girl," DNR secretary John Griffin said in a statement. "This is beyond alarming; it is unacceptable, and we are committed to doing everything we can to keep our boaters - and our children - safe."
The DNR will draft the legislation, which will be presented to the 2010 General Assembly when it reconvenes in January.