If you’re planning on heading out on the water this summer, you may want to layoff the booze. The Austin Police Department (APD) recently launched an initiative called Operation Dry Water to help crack down on drunk boaters.
Last year, APD issued 17,942 safety warnings and citations. Additionally, police arrested 278 boaters for drugs or alcohol. The purpose of Operation Dry Water is to decrease these numbers by spreading recreational boating awareness and increasing police enforcement. Since the program was initiated, APD says the number of boating deaths caused by alcohol has decreased from 19 percent to 16 percent.
Drunk Boating is the Cause of Almost One-Third of All Fatal Boating Accidents
Alcohol is the leading cause of all recreational boating accidents. The legal limit for operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol is .08, which is the same as driving a car. And similarly to drunk driving, drunk boating can be just a dangerous. Sun, noise, vibration and the motion of a boat are what police call “stressors” in the boating environment. These stressors can actually intensify the effects of drugs and alcohol, possibly putting passengers in danger. Moreover, alcohol increases how susceptible one is to the effects of cold-water immersion, which can quickly induce hypothermia. If a drunk boater accidentally falls overboard, they are more likely to experience cold-water immersion.
The effects of alcohol can also be dangerous for passengers, as well. It is not uncommon for drunk passengers to slip and injure themselves. Drunk passengers are also more likely to fall overboard and drown. Additionally, if for whatever reason the boat driver is unable to operate, an unimpaired passenger must be able to step in. Boat owners should encourage passengers not to drink while on board.
Operation Dry Water also draws attention to the fact it is also illegal to operate personal watercrafts, such as jet skis, while under the influence of alcohol. Drinking while participating in watersports, such as water skiing and flyboarding is also not advisable, considering fast reflexes and balance are needed to safely participate in such activities.