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Life Jacket Observation Study
The Auxiliary Life Jacket Observation Study (AUXLWO) Program is an ongoing collaboration with JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. Since 2014, AUXLWO has measured the life jacket wear rate of recreational boaters in 30 states across the United States. This information is used to educate the boating public, elected officials and community stakeholders. The program's goal is to reduce death and serious injury on the water with data-based practices. Study methodology In each state, AUXLWO observers record boating behavior at four bodies of water (sites) over summer weekends. Data is collected at the same location at each site, each year. Working in teams of two, with one observer and one recorder, AUXLWO observers record up to 300 boats or for at least four hours. Wear rate data is then combined with annual U.S. Coast Guard accident data and reported to the U.S. Congress. Results and takeaways Data collected over the 21 total years of the life jacket study shows that wear rates have remained relatively consistent: less than 5% of recreational boaters are wearing life jackets. However, while observation and statistics tell a story, they are not the same as taking effective action. AUXLWO also identifies how this can be applied through the Auxiliary's recreational boating safety mission and the data be used as a baseline to measure change.