Boaters Should be Required to Take An Alcohol Awareness Class

by: Mike Miller

Drinking and operating a motor vehicle is almost always thought of in terms of an automobile. The fact is, as a percentage, people piloting watercraft are driving under the influence of alcohol and or other drugs, is much higher.

Alcohol + Boating = Accident!

Back in my drinking days, there was little I enjoyed more than getting out on the water and having a few drinks. There were many times that I and my comrades operated the boat totally intoxicated. It is so common that now that I do not drink, I am fearful of getting behind a ski boat. Now my friends love having me because I just sip a soda and they know there is a sober captain!

It should come as no surprise that alcohol is the leading contributor in fatal boating accidents. Despite all the drinking and boating, it is somewhat surprising that in 2010 the United States Guard said that there were 126 deaths on the waters where alcohol played a strong contributing factor. There were almost 400 alcohol-related boating accidents last year.

Other factor Make Drinking on the Water Especially Treacherous

Drinking and operating a boat is definitely a bad idea. There are contributing factors which make it even more dangerous. The heat, combined with direct sunlight intensifies the effect of alcohol, often causing dehydration as well.

Other effects that can intensify the effects of booze are the vibrations from the boat, as well as wind and noise. These environmental factors can make a person feel disoriented and cause their judgment to become increasingly questionable.

States Trying to Stop Drinking and Boating

Both Iowa and Oklahoma have lowered the legal limit for blood-alcohol concentration from .10 to .08 when it comes to drinking and piloting a water craft. North Carolina has a program called “On the Road or On the Water,” which is a state-wide effort by police to combat operating any vehicle on the influence.

Texas has a “no refusal” program where judges are on-site to help police perform blood tests on boaters suspected of being intoxicated and refusing to take a breathalyzer.

As with everything involving alcohol be careful. I am not telling you not to enjoy a beer while water skiing – just show restraint. An accident always will ruin a good boating experience. Happy boating!