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Part Two Boating Safety

Be safe With Some Sobering Stats

In the United States, many Americans have taken a strong stand against driving under the influence, or DUI. There are MADD, SADD, RADD and countless other organizations that raise money and lobby for tougher laws against mixing alcohol with driving. Why? Because these laws and their enforcement save lives on land AND on the water.

Just like DUI, boating under the influence (BUI) is illegal because it's dangerous. BUI has contributed to almost 34 percent of fatal boating accidents. The potential ill-effects of alcohol, recreational drugs or even prescription medications have a greater impact in the water than they do on land. The operator's judgment, vision and coordination are already tested with motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray. Alcohol and drugs only intensify these pressures, increase fatigue and decrease reaction time.

That's why there's B.A.D.D. (Boaters Against Drunk Driving), and why the United States Coast Guard (USCG) is proactively addressing the issues of drinking and boating responsibly. The USCG has targeted this issue and produced several laws for the protection of all boaters.

It's important to note that BUI is not limited to alcohol and recreational drugs. Common prescriptions such as heart or blood pressure medication can possibly have dangerous side effects that impair the ability to operate a boat. So, even those who don't drink need to consider other impairments in their boating activities. If you have questions about your medications, contact your physician.

There are numerous effects of BUI. First, there is a diminished ability to distinguish colors (particularly red and green) and see adeptly with peripheral vision, night vision and focus. Secondly, the inner ear can be disturbed, making it difficult to distinguish up from down. Thirdly, a false physical sensation of warmth may deceive a man overboard and quicken hypothermia. Lastly, a person's cognitive abilities and judgment deteriorate, his balance and coordination are impaired, and his reaction time decreases with alcohol consumption.

No matter what water vessel you own (canoe, rowboat, powerboat, yacht), boating under the influence of alcohol or dangerous drugs is ILLEGAL. A blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.1 percent is 10 times more likely to end in a fatality. Most states and the federal government have a BAC limit of .08 percent. The USCG and local law enforcement agencies cooperate to enforce these stringent state and federal laws and will prosecute. Any indications of BUI and you may find the USCG or appropriate local law enforcement agency aboard your vessel, arresting you, detaining you and possibly turning you over to state or local authorities. Large fines, suspensions, revocation of boat-operating privileges and even jail time will keep you from enjoying any nautical excursions for a while.

This table shows the approximate impact of alcohol consumption based on body weight. But remember, it is better to err on the side of caution in boating, especially when factoring all the environmental elements into the equation.

Table data is from USCG website.

Recreational boating is about fun on the water, but it's no fun when your safety and the safety of others are jeopardized with irresponsibility. Follow the USCG mandate and "take charge" of your play and keep the waters safe for all who enjoy them.

Bibliography:

    • All Volunteer Yacht Club (AVYC)

    • BADD

    • National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA)

    • United States Coast Guard (USCG)

    • United States Power Squadron (USPS)

Sea Ray is proud to offer this safety information to increase your boating safety and enjoyment. These documents are provided for your personal information only, and you hereby acknowledge that any reliance upon any of these materials shall be at your sole risk. Sea Ray reserves the right, in its sole discretion and without any obligation, to make improvements to, or correct any error or omissions, in any portion of the information. Sea Ray hereby disclaims all liability to the maximum extent permitted by law in relation to this information and does not give any warranties, express or implied, or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any of the information provided.

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