Drinking and driving is never a good idea. Drinking and boating can be even worse, as the risks are far greater while on water, and the consequences may be deadly. The heat of the sun and the motion of the water intensifies the effect alcohol has on a drunk boater. Alcohol impairs a boater’s balance, vision, judgment and reaction time.
A boat operator with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.10 percent is 10 times more likely to have a boating accident than a sober boater. That is a statistic to make people think twice about drinking and boating.
If the boater is inexperienced, speeding, not mentally sharp and clear-headed and his or her inhibitions are relaxed due to the alcohol, a consequence of boating may be a collision that causes serious injury or death to the driver and/or their passengers. Alcohol is the number one cause of fatal boating accidents, and U.S. Coast Guard statistics prove that year after year.
No matter where the boating is taking place — a lake, river, pond or ocean — there are no traffic lanes, a factor that greatly increases the chances of collisions on open waterways. People tend to have more experience driving on the roads than in the water, and thus people have less confidence boating than driving. Most people who go boating only do so an average of 110 hours per year.
To have an enjoyable and safe boating experience, make sure you know the rules of handling watercraft and be aware that boating can go awry at a moment’s notice.