Published: 18/12/2013

So much for the history. Why then are there still so many in the world who have access to lifejackets but choose not to wear them?

This was a question posed by Maritime New Zealand to a focus group of males aged over 40. Why males over 40? Because statistically they have the highest representation in fatalities through recreational boating who could have survived had they just worn a lifejacket.

For the target audience, going out on the water offers freedom, a release from the daily routine, excitement and being at one with the elements – and lifejackets and the rational structure and mature control they represent are unattractive.

"To wear a lifejacket is almost an admission that one is at risk – and most men like to feel in command of the situation".

"Don't be a clown. Wear a lifejacket" was Maritime New Zealand's response in a very successful TV campaign, based on the research done by Grant Storry of IPSOS. Grant's findings are helping shape future campaigns to increase lifejacket use, and are relevant to many countries with large recreational boating fleets.

Question for those running public education campaigns: what are the triggers for the groups you are targeting and what are you doing to change their behaviour?