In an effort to be more consumer-friendly and spur innovation, the U.S. Coast Guard is dropping its Type I-V labeling system for life jackets. The system has been used to identify life jacket types with their approved use.
According to Chris Edmonston, BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety President and Chairman of the National Safe Boating Council, “The boating safety community believes this move by the Coast Guard will help lead the way toward more comfortable and innovative life jacket designs, help boaters stay on the right side of the law, lower costs, and save lives.”
He went on to say that the type coding was unique to the U.S., tended to confuse boaters, limited choice and increased the cost of life jackets.
“This move is expected to lead to the introduction of new life jacket designs, especially those made in other countries as U.S. standards will be more ‘harmonized,’ initially Canada and eventually the European Union,” said Edmonston. “Along with a wider variety, aligning our standards with those to our neighbor to the north and across the Atlantic will help reduce prices as manufacturers won’t have to make products unique to the U.S. market.”
Boaters must still abide by the current standards when using older life jackets marked with the Type I-V labeling, as they will remain legal for use.