Alcohol and Other Forms of Impairing Substance – a Major Factor in Most Boating Accidents

Alcohol and Other Forms of Impairing Substance – a Major Factor in Most Boating Accidents

Jul 25

Based on the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2014 recreational boating statistics, the following are the five types of recreational vessels with the highest number of casualties:

  1. Open motorboats, with 1672 casualties (282 deaths and 1390 injuries)
  2. Personal watercraft, with 626 casualties (34 deaths and 5920 injuries)
  3. Cabin motorboat, with 294 casualties (39 deaths and 255 injuries)
  4. Canoe/Kayak, with 256 casualties (133 deaths and 123 injuries)
  5. Pontoon, with 114 casualties (17 deaths and 97 injuries)

Recreational boating continues to be a very popular leisure activity in the U.S. In 2012, an estimated 87.8 million Americans (counting adults only) participated in recreational boating at least once; in 2013, this number rose to 88 million.

Who wouldn’t say that water activities are fun, exciting and thrilling, especially for those who get to spend time driving/riding a jet ski or sailing on a yacht out in the sea? With too much fun, however, some people just tend to forget about acting carefully and responsibly; this is probably the reason why exciting activities can also be risky occasions.

To make water adventure more fun, many bring not only food but intoxicating drinks as well. The bad news is, just like drinking and driving do not make a good combination, so does drinking and boating. As reiterated by the U.S. Coast Guard, drinking alcohol while at sea can affect a boat operator’s and passengers’ vision, judgment, balance and coordination even faster than when it is consumed on land. This is due to the overall marine environment, where everyone on board experience the sun, sea water mist or spray, wind, engine noise, vibration and motion. Thus, due to alcohol, accidents, like capsizing boats and drunken passengers falling overboard and drowning have become very common. The USCG further says that alcohol is the leading contributory factor in fatal boating accidents, as well as the leading factor in deaths in the water.

Besides alcohol, another major contributing factor in fatal boating accidents is failure to wear a life jacket. This goes the same regardless of the type of vessel one is operating or riding before falling into the water – a yacht, a motorboat, a jet ski, a pontoon, a canoe or a kayak. And as the boating season begins anew, the USCG strongly reminds all boaters to boat responsibly – part of which is wearing a life jacket and avoiding consumption of any impairing substance.

According to a Charleston boating injury attorney, any person who operates any type of vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and causes an accident that injures another person gives this injured victim the legal right and reason to pursue a legal action against him or her. Well, in connection to drinking and boating, thousands of people have, indeed, been injured, resulting to thousands of boat operators finding themselves in court as defendants.