The U.S. Coast Guard launched “Operation Dry Water” this weekend, a nationwide annual campaign to call attention to the dangers of boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
According to the Coast Guard, alcohol was the leading factor in 16 percent of boating-related deaths in 2011, the Detroit Free Press reports. “Sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion cause fatigue and slow down your reaction time,” Cleveland-based Coast Guard Commander David Beck, Chief of Enforcement for the 9th Coast Guard District, told the newspaper. “Combining those factors with alcohol or drugs greatly reduces your reaction time and can lead to deadly consequences.” The article notes that boaters who fail sobriety tests can be issued citations or can be immediately taken into custody and have their vessels impounded.
The Coast Guard recommends that in order to avoid boating under the influence, boaters should take along a variety of cool non-alcoholic drinks. “If you want to make alcohol part of your day’s entertainment, plan to have a party ashore at the dock, in a picnic area, at a boating club, or in your backyard… Choose a location where you’ll have time between the fun and getting back into your car or boat,” the Coast Guard notes on its website. Boaters who dock for lunch or dinner and drink alcohol with their meal should wait a reasonable amount of time (a minimum of one hour per drink) before operating a boat.