Boating Accidents: Alcohol is Still a Leading Cause
It’s a beautiful day to be on the water. The sun is shining and the kids are having a great time.
Then another boater puts you family in danger, and you find out later that alcohol was to blame.
Alcohol is nothing to be blasé about and certainly not on the water—it’s involved in almost half of all boating accidents, making it one of the leading causes of boating accidents.
Here’s why alcohol is such a huge concern on the water and what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from alcohol-related boating accidents.
The Numbers on Alcohol-Related Boating Accidents
Alcohol use is the fifth most common contributing factor to boating accidents, accounting for 282 accidents in 2019. However, it is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, account for 23% of deaths, 113 deaths in 2019 (the next most common cause of fatalities, hazardous waters, had 48 deaths in 2019).
These statistics are concerning for several reasons. For one thing, boating has a considerably lower legal BAC than driving—the legal BAC for driving is .17 and below, while the legal BAC for boating is below 0.08, less than half the legal BAC for driving.
Why is Alcohol Such a Huge Risk?
The statistics and the significantly lower BAC for boaters help demonstrate why drinking and boating is such a huge concern. While pleasure craft are intended for a good time on the water, they are not toys, and they carry a different set of risks than a car.
Many boaters think that drinking and boating isn’t a big deal. But a BAC of .10 makes a boater ten times more likely to die in a boating accident than a boater with zero BAC. That includes boats that don’t have motors, which is why law enforcement is cracking down on BUIs in recent years—you can even get a BUI while in a canoe or kayak.
Remember, boating accidents can happen regardless of what vessel you use. And that means that boating under the influence is a huge risk to yourself and everyone you share the water with.
How to Protect Yourself
The best way to protect yourself and others is simple: don’t drink if you plan to be on the water, and don’t let others around you drink either.
Drinking should be approached in the same way you would approach drinking and driving—if you plan to drink, you should have a designated driver (or in this case, designated boater) who is responsible for keeping everyone out of trouble, along with at least one sober person helping the designated boater keep an eye on the water.
You should also keep a close eye on anyone who drinks and gets in the water, even if they don’t use a boat. Remember, drowning doesn’t “just happen” and it doesn’t require bad weather. Worse, alcohol is involved in 70% of drowning accidents.
If You’re Suffering the Consequences of an Alcohol-Related Boating Accident
Your trip to the lake wasn’t supposed to include a trip to the hospital. But thanks to an alcohol-related boating accident, your sunny day went south—and you’re still suffering the consequences.
We know that no family should have to suffer because of someone else’s carelessness. That’s why our team of expert personal injury attorneys have fought for families like yours since 1989.
If you need to speak with an attorney about your options, click here to schedule your free consultation.