Last year, a U.S. Coast Guard station on Lake Erie made more drunken boating arrests than any other agency in the nation. Officers at the Marblehead, Ohio station charged a staggering 67 people with boating under the influence. The area does have a reputation as being a party destination, said a Coast Guard spokesman, but agencies all over the country are emphasizing boater safety as this year’s season opens.
Just like driving a car, boating under the influence can be dangerous and though laws and regulations vary from state to state, the consequences can be just as harsh
“Alcohol consumption impairs a boater’s judgment, balance, vision and reaction time. Alcohol also increases fatigue and susceptibility to hypothermia. Intensifying the effects of alcohol are sun, wind, noise, vibration and movement, which are all common to boating activities,” says The Courier of Montgomery County.
Though it is fun to pack the cooler full of cold ones and spend a day out on the water partying with friends, as seems common on Lake Erie, whoever is in charge of driving the boat needs to stay sober. Not only will alcohol consumption lead to legal issues, but it could also cause accidents and put other boaters at risk. Unfortunately, irresponsible boating, particularly when alcohol is involved, can harm innocent people.
“The American Boating Association encourages every boater to be serious about boating safety, starting with the proper kind and amount of boater training,” the publication adds. “Remember, a boating mishap or fatality often involves innocent people who share in none of the blame, but all of the consequence. As a responsible boater, the life you save may very well be someone else’s.”
Beyond being smart and not drinking too much while boating, is vital, but there are other safety measures that boaters should familiarize themselves with before putting their boat in the water for a summer of fun. Again, rules vary from place to place, but boaters will always have to make sure of things like having enough life jackets and the proper ropes and anchors on board.
As the summer rapidly approaches and boat owners get ready to hit the water first time, a refresher course on rules and safety tips can be a good idea. Of course, being responsible always has to be the number one priority.