The Safe Boating Campaign, a worldwide effort focused on responsible boating, reminds boaters to boat sober this Fourth of July. Boating under the influence, or BUI, is the leading contributing factor in recreational boater deaths, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
“The Fourth of July has unfortunately become known for drinking and boating, and deadly accidents,” said Peg Phillips, executive director of the National Safe Boating Council, and lead organization for the Safe Boating Campaign.
“Operating a boat – or even being a passenger – is incredibly risky while under the influence of alcohol or drugs,” continued Phillips. “Impaired boaters can easily fall overboard, swim near the propeller, lean over the side, or stand up in small boats causing the boat to capsize.”
The side effects of alcohol or drug use, such as impaired judgment, reduced balance, and poor coordination, are magnified while boating, due to environmental conditions from the sun, wind, and boat motion.
The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, a partner of the Safe Boating Campaign, in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard and law enforcement agencies nationwide, is coordinating the annual Operation Dry Water three-day weekend. This heightened BUI awareness and enforcement effort will be held from July 2 to July 4 in every U.S. state and territory.
The Safe Boating Campaign also encourages boaters this Fourth of July to check all equipment is present and working, share the details of their trip with someone trusted before leaving the dock, wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket, use an engine cut-off switch, watch the weather, and follow all navigation rules.
“Boating accidents can happen at any time, so it’s important to always be prepared,” said Yvonne Pentz, communications director of the National Safe Boating Council. “Similar to driving a car and wearing your seat belt at all times, you should wear your life jacket when on or near the water.”
The Safe Boating Campaign is produced under a grant from the Sports Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund and administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. For more boating safety tips and to follow the campaign on social media, please visit www.safeboatingcampaign.com.