The “Wear It Tennessee” Campaign is an experiential, social marketing program to try to voluntarily increase life jacket wear on adults on boats. The objective of the campaign is to increase public awareness about the comfort and availability of new styles of life jackets, especially the inflatable life jackets. It is hoped that these efforts will show a measurable increase of life jacket wear through the JSI (U.S. Coast Guard contractor) observational life jacket count study.
Drowning is the leading cause of death in boating accidents in Tennessee, with nearly 60% of drownings caused by people falling overboard or capsizing, not wearing life jackets. In fact, and unfortunately, Tennessee ranks fifth in the nation for the number of people who drown in boating related accidents. We believe that by increasing the number of boaters wearing life jackets while on the water could significantly decrease these types of deaths. However, changing life jacket wear rates is seen as one of the greatest challenges in recreational boating safety and requires creative ideas in order to change behavior.
The U.S. Coast Guard has conducted observational wear rate surveys for the past twelve years and the national wear rate has remained constant (approximately 22% for all boaters) during that time. In an effort to increase the number of boaters using life jackets, we believe innovation and incentive are required to “move the bar” and increase the number of life jackets being worn (voluntarily) on the water.
Partnerships are a very important part of this effort. There are a variety of groups and businesses that want to continue to be involved in this campaign. The Corps of Engineers, TVA, and Tennessee Marina Association were a tremendous help to this effort. This group of partners also includes the life jacket manufacturers such as Stearns, Revere and Mustang Survival. WalMart has been a huge sponsor as have other businesses such as Nestle Water, Foster Signs, and Triton. Many of the marinas were invaluable to the program as well. The United States Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety, the National Safe Boating Council, Boat US Foundation, Coast Guard Auxiliary, and US Power Squadrons were key players in this effort.
Other key partners: SignSource, Seatow, TN State Parks, Triton Stone Group, Bass Fishing Guide Service, Waterside Marina, Elm Hill Marina, Nashville Weather Service, TN Wildlife Resources Foundation