Boaters have been urged to remain vigilant and safe while on the water this summer with the Victorian Coalition Government today launching Transport Safety Victoria's (TSV) summer boating safety campaign.
Minister for Ports Denis Napthine predicted a busy boating season across Victoria with the year's rainfall returning many inland rivers, lakes and reservoirs to good health.
"It is important for all boaters to take care while out on the water regardless of whether they are on the coast or on a lake in central Victoria," Dr Napthine said.
"We want every boater to come home safely at the end of the day. Boaters need to follow some key safety rules."
The campaign is supported by the introduction TSV's maritime safety officers who will be on the water from today to help boaters understand safety requirements and promote compliance with safety rules.
Boating safety education officers will be at boat ramps, jetties and beaches across Victoria during this summer, talking to boaters about safety and distributing a range of safety information.
"We understand Victorians are keen to go out and enjoy their time on the water, but we want them to do it safely so they can return to their loved ones," Dr Napthine said.
"Since July 2005, there have been more than 260 incidents involving capsizings, floodings, swampings and loss of stability which have led to 24 fatalities."
TSV's Director of Maritime Safety, Mr Peter Corcoran, said these statistics were the key impetus for focusing on buoyancy – both for people and boats – this summer.
"We know that when boaters suddenly and unexpectedly enter the water, a life jacket will greatly enhance the chances of them surviving," Mr Corcoran said.
"Ensuring that your vessel will float in the event that it is swamped or capsized is a key factor in contributing to your survival.
"A buoyant boat gives the occupants a chance to reach and use their emergency equipment to raise the alarm.
"Fitting additional buoyancy material to boats is an easy way to keep them on top of the water in an emergency, even when swamped.
"Boaters in trouble have a greater chance of survival if their boat is upright, floating and level on the surface of the water.
"Searchers find it easier to spot a boat than a person in the water," Mr Corcoran said.
For more information about safe boating visit the TSV website at www.transportsafety.vic.gov.au