Rep. Carson's Plan to Make Duck Boats Safer Advances in Committee


Date: March 2, 2022
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Transportation

Today, Rep. Carson's ongoing effort to improve the safety of Duck Boats moved one step closer to becoming law. The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where Rep. Carson serves as a senior member, held a markup of the 2022 Coast Guard Reauthorization Act, which authorizes programs for the U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Maritime Commission. The committee voted to include Rep. Carson's legislation to strengthen Duck Boat safety requirements, titled the Duck Boat Safety Improvement Act.

Duck Boats are a type of amphibious passenger vehicle popular with tourists; they can travel on roadways and on water. However, for 20 years now, recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board to make these vessels safer have not been implemented. Meanwhile, since 1999, more than 40 people have died in Duck Boat accidents.

This major safety problem hit close to home when nine members of the Coleman family from Indianapolis were killed in a Duck Boat accident in 2018 on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri. Only Tia Coleman and her nephew, Donovan, survived. In total, 17 of the 31 passengers on the boat were killed. Since then, Tia Coleman has become an advocate for greater Duck Boat safety.

"First and foremost, I want to thank Tia Coleman, and all of the loved ones of the Coleman family, who have turned this tragedy into purpose," said Rep. Carson. "Their tireless advocacy for Duck Boat safety has strengthened this legislation that I am honored to champion in Congress. I also thank Chairman Peter DeFazio and my congressional colleagues on the committee for supporting our effort to honor those we have lost by implementing these long-overdue safety measures. By acting now, we can prevent future tragedies and save countless lives. I urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to support the full Coast Guard Reauthorization Act so the recommendations in the Duck Boat Safety Improvement Act can become law of the land."

The Duck Boat Safety Improvement Act will require vessel operators to implement common-sense boating safety measures when waterborne, including:

Improving reserve buoyancy and watertight compartmentalization to prevent sinking,
Requiring more monitoring and adherence to severe weather alerts and warnings,
Requiring release of road safety seatbelts when Duck Boats become waterborne,
Requiring stronger crew safety training and certification,
Removing or reconfigure canopies and window coverings for waterborne operations,
Requiring personal flotation devices for waterborne operations,
Requiring installation of better bilge pumps and alarms,
Installing underwater LED lights that activate automatically in emergencies, and
Complying with other Coast Guard boating safety requirements.