Governor Riley Proclaims May 22-28 Safe Boating Week in Alabama; Announces New Life Jacket Program

Conservation Commissioner Barnett Lawley today addressed the importance of boating safety in a press conference at the Riverfront Amphitheater in Downtown Montgomery. The event served three purposes, all relating to boating safety.

In a formal proclamation, Governor Riley declared the week of May 22-28, 2004, as Safe Boating Week in Alabama, coinciding with National Safe Boating Week. The national campaign emphasizes the essential need for boaters to wear life jackets, and the effectiveness of the life jackets to saving lives when boating accidents occur.

This spring also marks the 10th anniversary of Alabama’s precedent-setting legislation – the Roberson-Archer Boating Safety Reform Act, requiring operator licensing, changes in equipment requirements, tougher laws for personal watercraft, and establishment of Boating Under the Influence laws. Alabama was the first state to enact stringent boating regulations that have been used as a model for other states’ similar programs.

A new program to be implemented by the Alabama Marine Police this boating season was announced by Commissioner Lawley. Through a partnership with the Alabama Children’s Water Safety Task Force and a number of participating and sponsoring entities, Marine Police Officers will be provided size-appropriate personal flotation devices (life jackets) for children so they may be used during enforcement efforts. Whenever a Marine Police Officer cites a boat operator for having children onboard without life jackets, the children will receive properly fitted life jackets that they may keep to use anytime they are boating in the future.

Sponsoring and participating agencies involved in providing hundreds of life jackets for this program are the Alabama Marine Police; American Red Cross, Birmingham chapter; The Regional Planning Commission of the Greater Birmingham Area; The Alabama Traffic Safety Center; I’m Safe Productions; Alabama Power Company, National Safe Kids Campaign; Alabama Safe Kids Campaign; Airport Marine; Children’s Hospital; The UAB Injury Control Research Center; the City of Montgomery; The National Water Safety Congress; and State Farm Insurance.

PHOTO: Hayden Jones of Montgomery gets fitted with a personal flotation device as his grandmother, Lynn Dawkins, looks on.

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