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 July 4 holiday is around the corner, and unfortunately has 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. “Drunken passengers 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.
“Impairment can be even more dangerous for boaters, since most have less experience and confidence operating a boat than they do driving a car,” said Yvonne Pentz, communications director of the National Safe Boating Council. “Boaters should also always wear a life jacket, similar to wearing a seat belt when you’re in a vehicle.”
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 3 to July 5 in every U.S. state and territory.
Since the inception of the Operation Dry Water Campaign in 2009, law enforcement officers have removed 4,095 BUI operators from the nation’s waterways and made contact with over 1.5 million boaters during the annual three-day weekend.
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 information and to follow the campaign on social media, please visit www.safeboatingcampaign.com.