Intoxication is a key factor in many boating accidents, experts say, as boating season gets underway. In Texas, almost 100 people died in boating accidents over the last three years, and alcohol use was the leading contributor, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Not wearing a life jacket also plays a role in many boating-related deaths, the article notes.
“It’s unfortunate that there’s probably a boating culture out there … a little bit different from driving your car. When you get into the boat, you’re going to have fun,” Game Warden Capt. Ron VanderRoest told the newspaper. “Not being able to drink or having to wear life jackets are not the most fun thing to do, but it’s a whole lot better than someone losing their lives.” The article notes 820 Texans were citing for boating while intoxicated from 2009 to 2011.
The Coast Guard announced the start of National Safe Boating Week, May 19 to 25, reminding the public that boating under the influence (BUI) or boating while intoxicated (BWI) is just as deadly as drinking and driving.
In a news release, the Coast Guard states, “It is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in every state. Penalties for violating BUI and BWI laws can include large fines, suspension or revocation of boat operator privileges and jail terms.”