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The dangerous link between alcohol and fatal boating accidents

With warm weather and sunny days prevalent, more and more people will be heading to the coast, lakes and rivers to enjoy the water. Unfortunately, as the state’s Department of Natural Resources reports, there a significant number of accidents every year, and in 2012, there were 12 boating fatalities in Georgia.

A large number of such incidents can be attributed to alcohol impairment. The U.S. Coast Guard points out that boat operators actually become intoxicated quicker than people driving cars. This is due to factors including the sun, the rocking of the boat and the potential for dehydration. The Coast Guard also warns that boat drivers tend to be less experienced on the water than on the road.  

The risk for boating while intoxicated is high. The Coast Guard notes that any boat operator who has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 or higher is 10 times more likely to be involved in a fatal boating accident than boat drivers who are sober. Further, alcohol contributes to more than half of all such fatal incidents.

Drinking alcohol aboard a ship can lead to the following effects:

  •        A lack of coordination and issue with balance
  •        Slower reaction times
  •        Inner ear problems that will leave someone unable to distinguish up from down while in the water
  •        A poor sense of judgment

There are strict penalties for boating under the influence of alcohol, including fines and possible jail time. Even more problematic is an accident that can cause serious injury and death. Boat operators who fail to behave responsibly put themselves, their passengers and others on the water at risk. 

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