NSBC Survey Finds Wear It! Campaign Continues to Influence Safe Boating Behavior

Washington, D.C. (October 9, 2014) – A survey of recreational boaters found the North American Safe Boating Campaign continues to have a positive impact on boater behavior. The yearlong campaign promotes safe and responsible boating and the value of voluntary life jacket
wear by recreational boaters through the national theme, Wear It!

The annual Wear It! Awareness Survey conducted by Paul Werth Associates on behalf of the National Safe Boating Council, sought to determine the campaign’s effectiveness, specifically the impact on life jacket wear, attitudes, and safety behavior of boaters.

“It is crucial to get an accurate view of how boaters are behaving when preparing or getting on the water and how they feel about wearing life jackets in order to make boating a safer and enjoyable experience for them,” said Rachel Johnson, executive director of the National Safe
Boating Council. Leveraging a team of trained volunteers, 605 on-site surveys were collected between June 16 and August 6, 2014 at 19 different bodies of water in seven states. Based on the locations’ level of
Wear It! campaign activity, the bodies of water were classified as no, medium or high activity.

All surveys were self-administered. In addition, qualitative interviews were conducted with seven boaters for further depth and understanding of their responses. Overall, the study shows the Wear It! campaign continues to have a positive impact on boaters’ attitudes and behaviors regarding safety. To view the full report, please click here.

“The primary barrier to boaters wearing life jackets continues to be perceived discomfort,” said Johnson. “The survey reinforces the importance of the Wear It! campaign’s educational efforts on new, comfortable styles of life jackets, including inflatable life jackets.”

Key survey findings are:
• Participants aware of the campaign are significantly more likely to wear life jackets always
or most of the time versus those unaware of the campaign (59 percent versus 42 percent).
• Boaters at high campaign activity locations and those aware of the campaign are significantly
more likely to agree that they “feel safest when wearing a life jacket / it’s a safe practice.”
• Boaters at high campaign activity locations are also significantly more likely to agree that “it
is important for me as a boater to encourage others to wear life jackets at all times when
boating or fishing.”
• More than one-half of the participants (52 percent) wear life jackets always or most of the
• Boaters at high campaign activity locations are significantly more likely than other boaters to
wear their life jackets “always or most of the time” versus boaters at no campaign activity
• A primary reason given for not wearing a life jacket was discomfort. Specifically, boaters explained that some types were too hot and bulky, uncomfortable to wear and they restricted the individual’s mobility.

“This survey helps demonstrate the impact of the Wear It! message, especially in no campaign activity locations, to prevent future fatalities by increasing the number of people wearing life jackets,” concluded Johnson.

About the National Safe Boating Council

The National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) is the foremost coalition for the advancement and promotion of safer boating through education, outreach, and training. The NSBC accomplishes this mission by promoting outreach and research initiatives that support boating education and safety awareness; improving the professional development of boating safety educators through training; and developing and recognizing outstanding boating safety programs. To learn more about the NSBC and its programs, visit