Maryland law raises PFD age requirement

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Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill into law Tuesday that immediately requires any child under the age of 13 to wear a personal flotation device while aboard a vessel that is under way.

The law will also require children under the age of 16 to possess a certificate of boating safety education before they can operate a vessel unless they are supervised by an adult or someone 16 or older who has a boating safety certificate, effective Oct. 1.

"As a state, nothing we do is more important than protecting the lives of our children," O'Malley said in a statement. "By raising the age at which a child is required to wear a life vest and improving boating safety education, this legislation will do just that."

Formerly, any child under the age of 7 had to 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.

The state averages 12 boating related fatalities a year. In 2009, Maryland had 17 boating related fatalities;16 of the victims were not wearing PFDs.

Raising the age requirement puts Maryland in line with federal regulations and 34 states, including Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.


Industry Paratroopers

Twenty-five Florida boating companies participated in the first “fly-in” to Tallahassee to speak with state legislators about issues impacting the industry.