Prince William of Britain and his wife, Catherine, shown above in Canada this summer, sport the style of life jacket that Susan Balistreri thinks are inappropriate for children.
Balistreri said that any life jacket for youth must be specially designed and comprehensively tested for their use before it is approved and sold. Her fear is that some industry advocates are pushing for an easier path to market: "Let's just give 'em an adult product and see what happens."
The inflatable vest issue is part of a broader discussion the Coast Guard is having with boat-safety advocates and the boating community about whether to mandate that passengers on recreational boats wear life vests at all times, a kind of on-the-water parallel to seat-belt laws. An advisory council has already suggested the Coast Guard explore new rules along these lines, which are likely to be quite controversial, Chambers said.
"Most people don't know it's going on, and these regulations just suddenly appear," Chambers said. "Very few people comment on it, and very few people read the [Federal] Register."
But, he said, Balistreri's victory proves the power of "the Jeffersonian form of democracy — one man or one woman can change the course of any action."