If you’re planning to go boating this weekend, you’ll be safer if you leave the beer at home.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s annual report, Recreational Boating Statistics, shows that a boat operator or passenger with a blood alcohol content above the legal limit has an increased risk of getting into a boating accident. Here’s why:
- Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion—stressors common to the boating environment—intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications by causing fatigue, which impairs a boater’s balance, coordination and reaction time.
- As blood alcohol level goes up, the ability to process information, assess dangerous situations and exercise sound judgment becomes difficult.
- Peripheral vision, depth perception, night vision, focus and the ability to distinguish colors, particularly red and green, are reduced.
- Alcohol reduces inhibitions and brings on a false sensation of physical warmth, which could cause a person to enter or remain in cold water until hypothermia sets in.
With these impairments, accidents are more likely and more deadly for passengers and boat operators. Alcohol is a factor in nearly 1 in 5 recreational boating fatalities; Coast Guard data show that in more than half of these cases, the victims capsized their boats or simply fell overboard.
For more information and tips on boating safety, visit www.uscgboating.org.