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Drinking while Boating is Riskier than you Realize

Posted by appsoftdev on May 23, 2014

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Memorial Day weekend statistically is one of the business days on Florida's waterways, as boaters and jet skiers take to the lakes, rivers and ocean to celebrate. Of course, much of the reveling will involve alcohol use - and that can turn a day of fun into a devastating experience.

It's no coincidence that the National Safe Boating Council has declared the week prior to Memorial Day National Safe Boating Week. In a recent USA Today report, Progressive Insurance said it received an average of 69 boating claims a day from 2011 to 2013. But on Memorial Day weeks in each of those years, the accident claim rate tripled.

Nationwide statistics show that alcohol use is a factor in a third of boating and jet ski accidents, perhaps in large part because boaters fail to realize that alcohol use is more dangerous on the water than on land for several reasons. First, factors of the marine environment, including exposure to sun and wind, water spray, motion, vibration and engine noise, accelerate the effects of alcohol on a drinker's body, causing one to lose coordination, judgment and reaction time at a quicker rate. Also, recreational boaters typically are less experienced on the water than on the highway. American boaters average just 110 total hours on the water - far less than the number of hours spent on the roadway during daily errands and commutes.

Effects of alcohol that can directly threaten safety on the water include:

  • Impaired cognitive and judgment abilities, making it more difficult to process information and recognize dangerous situations;
  • Impaired physical performance marked by lack of coordination and balance and by increased reaction time; 
  • Visual impairments including decreased peripheral vision, reduced depth perception, decreased night vision, and an inability to focus or to distinguish colors; 
  • Inner ear disturbances, which make it difficult or even impossible for a boater who falls overboard to distinguish upward from downward direction and increase the risk of drowning; 
  • An alcohol-induced sensation of warmth, which has been blamed for preventing people who have fallen into cold water to get out before experiencing hypothermia, a potentially deadly condition.

It's clear that drinking and boating don't mix. Boating accident lawyers with Orlando's Todd E. Copeland & Associates urge you to leave the alcohol behind on your boating excursions. If you or your dependents are injured in a boating accident caused by someone else's impairment, neglect or recklessness, get medical treatment immediately. Then, contact us at 407-999-8995.