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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 98-1652



[58 PA. CODE CH. 97]


[28 Pa.B. 5131]

   The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) proposes to amend § 97.1 (relating to personal flotation devices). The Commission is publishing this amendment as a notice of proposed rulemaking under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Fish and Boat Code) (code). The proposed amendment relates to the mandatory wearing of personal flotation devices (PFD).

A.  Effective Date

   This proposed amendment, if approved on final rulemaking, will go into effect on January 1, 2000.

B.  Contact Person

   For further information on the proposed change, contact John F. Simmons, Director, Bureau of Boating and Education, (717) 657-4538, or Laurie E. Shepler, Assistant Counsel, (717) 657-4546, P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000. This proposal is available electronically through the Commission's Web site (

C.  Statutory Authority

   This proposed amendment is published under the statutory authority of section 5123 of the code (relating to general boating regulations).

D.  Purpose and Background

   The proposed amendment is designed to update, modify and improve Commission regulations pertaining to boating. The specific purpose of the proposed amendment is described in more detail under the summary of proposal. Prior to consideration by the Commission, the Commission's Boating Advisory Board reviewed the proposal and recommended that the Commission approve the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking containing the amendment.

E.  Summary of Proposal

   Section 97.4 (relating to personal flotation devices). From 1988 through 1997, 147 people lost their lives in recreational boating accidents in this Commonwealth. About one-half of these fatalities occurred during the cool weather months outside the traditional summer boating season. It has been proven that wearing PFDs will save lives. Government has been reluctant to mandate the wearing of PFDs because of personal liberty issues as well as the unavailability of devices that could be worn comfortably while participating in various boating activities. Manufacturers of PFDs have made great strides in recent years. In 1997, fully inflatable devices were approved for use on recreational boats for the first time.

   The United States Coast Guard has recently closed its request for comments about the mandatory wearing requirements for recreational boaters. The data has not been compiled yet, but preliminary reports are that most comments stated that this requirement is rightly the responsibility of the states and not the Federal government. The Commission has considered the issue of mandatory PFD wearing several times. The latest was in January 1996. At the time, the proposal was not accepted because inflatable PFDs were not yet approved. Only four comments were received. Two opposed the requirement and two supported the requirement. Additionally, the Type IV throwable PFD is no longer accepted on recreational boats. All boats must now carry wearable PFDs.

   Considering the increased availability of new PFDs and the continuing deaths during cool weather months, the Commission is again proposing the adoption of amendments that would require boaters to wear PFDs from October 1 through the Friday before Memorial Day. Thirty to 40 people might be alive today if they had worn a PFD during this critical time period.

F.  Paperwork

   The proposed amendment will not increase paperwork and will create no new paperwork requirements.

G.  Fiscal Impact

   The proposed amendment will have no adverse fiscal impact on the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions. The proposed amendments will impose no new costs on the private sector or the general public.

H.  Public Comments

   Interested persons are invited to submit written comments, objections or suggestions about the proposed amendment to the Executive Director, Fish and Boat Commission, P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, within 60 days after publication of this notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted.

   Comments also may be submitted electronically at '''' A subject heading of the proposal and a return name and address must be included in each transmission. If an acknowledgment of electronic comments is not received by the sender within 2 working days, the comments should be retransmitted to ensure receipt.

Executive Director

   Fiscal Note: 48A-86. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.

Annex A



Subpart C.  BOATING


§ 97.1.  Personal flotation devices.

*      *      *      *      *

   (i)  Between October 1 and the Friday before Memorial Day, all persons shall wear a Type I, II, III or V Coast Guard approved PFD when onboard any canoe or kayak or any other boat less than 16 feet in length when the boat is being operated and not affixed or made fast to the shore.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 98-1652. Filed for public inspection October 9, 1998, 9:00 a.m.]

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