Summer in the Northwoods often includes spending time boating on the area lakes or the river. It can be fun and relaxing. The Oneida County Health Department (OCHD) is reminding everyone to stay safe on the water this summer by warning of the dangers of boating under the influence.
Some statistics cited by OCHD include:
- Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 21% of deaths according to U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics 2014.
- Impairment can be even more dangerous for boaters than for drivers, since most boaters have less experience and confidence operating a boat than they do driving a car.
- Alcohol can impair a boater’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time. It can also increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion.
- Sun, wind, noise, vibration, and motion-“stressors” common to the boating environment-intensify the side effects of alcohol, drugs, and some medications.
- It is illegal in every state and territory to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Boating under the influence laws pertain to all vessels, from canoes and rowboats to large ships.
- Operating a boat with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher is against federal law and most state laws.
- Alcohol is also dangerous for passengers. Intoxication can lead to slips, falls overboard and other dangerous accidents.