Coast Guard Life Jacket Regulations for Recreational Boaters
Coast Guard regulations require that each recreational boat be equipped with an appropriate life jacket (PDF) for each person on board. However, many states have established laws or regulations further requiring that children, water skiers, persons being towed behind a recreational vessel, and riders on personal watercraft wear appropriate life jackets. In June 2002, the Coast Guard promulgated its first regulations requiring boaters to wear life jackets/PDF's, specifically children under thirteen years of age. Recreational boating accident statistics show that the proximate cause of death in over 70% of all boating accidents each year is drowning. Furthermore, approximately 85% of the drownings involve victims who were not wearing life jackets/PDF's at the time of drowning.
To read actual coast Guard documents about these regulations see: http://uscgboating.org/articles/pdf/Information%20Sheets.pdf