Quayle champions children’s safety

Published 8:58 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2010

To the editor:

With summer rapidly approaching, it comes to mind that many children once again will be spending those long, hot days with their families out on the Nansemond or the James rivers, or on any one of Suffolk’s treasured lakes.

That is why I was glad to see state Sen. Frederick M. Quayle submit a bill in this year’s General Assembly session that would require children under the age of 13 to wear a Type I, II, III or V, Coast Guard-approved floatation device while on certain recreational vehicles.

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Quayle’s bill, Senate Bill 93, received strong, bipartisan support in the Senate, passing by a vote of 30-10. Currently, federal law requires the same standards as SB 93, but because Virginia law is not concurrent with the federal law, conservation officers cannot give citations to those boaters with children not wearing life jackets; only the U.S. Coast Guard has that authority.

This bill brings up a safety issue — one that stands to protect Virginia’s kids while they are having fun. Wearing a life jacket while on a boat should be a habit for kids, much like wearing a seatbelt in the car or a helmet while riding a bicycle.

All too often, we hear of the senseless deaths of children as a byproduct of not taking into consideration the importance of safety precautions such as these.

If passed by the House of Delegates and signed into law by Governor McDonnell, this bill would take effect Jan. 1. I encourage all local delegates to support our senator, and I applaud Delegate Brenda Pogge for introducing similar legislation in the House.

Despite what you may believe due to the current weather, summer will be here before you know it. Let’s hope that our kids enjoy themselves this summer and stay safe.