There can be a certain air of finality to celebrations of the last days of summer. Boaters and fishers try to wring all the sunshine and warmth out of September and October days, sometimes celebrating a bit too hard.
As dangerous now as then
The U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division urges everyone to remember that boating under the influence (BUI) is just as deadly as drinking and driving – and just as likely to cause boating accidents in September as it is in May.
The USCG notes on its website that alcohol impairment on a boat has the same effects that it does on land: it diminishes your judgment, balance, vision and coordination, which is exactly how it increases the risk of boating accidents.
However, alcohol is even more hazardous on a boat than it is in a car. A number of factors accelerate and enhance a boater’s impairment:
- Motion of the boat
- Engine noise
Those factors cause fatigue that hastens the decline of a boat operator’s judgment, reaction time and coordination.
Alcohol also exacerbates a common problem among boaters: inexperience. Boat operators are typically much less experienced in piloting a boat than driving a car. The USCG says recreational boaters average about 110 hours on water per year, many eclipse in a month or two behind the wheel of their car, SUV, pick-up or van.
Far too often, impaired boaters cause violent crashes that result in serious injuries and even fatalities. Please remember that friends and family members don’t let friends and family members operate a boat while drunk.