Driving a boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol is really no different from driving a vehicle in the same condition – both can have fatal consequences.

People who are on the water should be aware of this, especially during busy periods like the upcoming 4th of July weekend.

There is a significant presence of boaters on the water during this holiday weekend. Thus, in an effort to thwart an increase in the number of incidents and fatalities related to boating under the influence of Operation Dry Water (ODW) was instituted in 2009.

Although ODW is a year round campaign, more attention is given to it over the weekend of July 4th due to increased awareness and application. ODW’s mission is to reduce the number of accidents and deaths linked to alcohol and drugs by raising awareness among boaters and by promoting a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol consumption on the water. .

Alcohol is the main contributor to boating-related fatalities. Alcohol can interfere with a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time, all of which are vitally important to the ship’s operator and passengers. When the cause of death was known, nearly 80% of fatal boating accident victims drowned.

The sun, wind, noise, vibrations and movement intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and certain medications and add additional “stressors”.

More than 4,700 disabled operators have been removed from the country’s waterways since ODW was established.

The blood alcohol level for boating under the influence (BUI) is the same as driving a vehicle under the influence (OVI) in Ohio – 0.08. During the 2020 operation, 625 people were cited for BUI. The highest BUI was 0.368.

“Our mission is to ensure that everyone on the water has a safe and enjoyable experience,” said Tim Dunleavy, president of the National Associated of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). “This means that all operators and passengers should choose to sail sober all season. Boating under the influence is a 100% preventable crime. Operation Dry Water, participating law enforcement agencies and our boating safety partners encourage boaters to stay safe by staying sober while boating.

The impairment is not limited to the operator of the boat. Passengers under the influence are at risk of serious injury whether the operator of the boat is sober or intoxicated and whether the boat is underway or not. Some of the dangers that poisoning can cause include slips, falls overboard and other dangerous incidents.

The US Coast Guard, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies participate in ODW. A total of 620 agencies participated in the 2020 operation and involved 7,612 agents. These officers established 105,517 contacts with ships and 305,466 contacts. A total of 8,666 citations were issued and 28,659 safety warnings were issued.

The Water Sports Foundation (WSF) recommends the following tips for maximizing the fun and safety of boating.

• Boaters should do a thorough inspection of their boats and trailers to make sure everything is in working order. Check with your local Coast Guard Auxiliary or Power Squadron for free ship safety checks.

• Perform a pre-departure check to ensure all required safety equipment is secure on board and operational.

• Top of the list: Make sure that life jackets are available and suitable for the weight and height of each passenger, especially young people. Life jackets save lives.

• Check the weather conditions and plan accordingly. Be prepared to find shelter or return home if bad weather approaches.

• Never overload your boat. Check the capacity plate and follow all weight mandates.

• If you are using a boat 26 feet or less, be sure to comply with new federal law requiring boat operators to wear and engage the ECOS: emergency stop switch. Worn by the captain, this safety lanyard immediately cuts the engine in the event of a fall overboard.

• Make sure VHF radios, telephones and EPIRB transponders are working. Consider carrying a cell phone battery charger as a backup.

• Pack sunscreen, a first aid kit and a basic tool kit.

“We want boaters to avoid becoming a boating statistic over this holiday weekend by practicing a few safety measures to keep everyone safe,” said Jim Emmons, executive director of WSF . “We believe safe boaters are happy boaters, so let’s all have fun being well prepared and safe on the water.”

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You can contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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