Coast Guard Gears Up for Operation Dry Water

The U.S. Coast Guard will partner with local law enforcement in support of Operation Dry Water June 26-28 to raise awareness of the hazards and consequences associated with boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In 2007, USCG reported 21 percent of deaths from recreational boating accidents resulted from the use of alcohol. "Operation Dry Water has a very clear mission," says Al Johnson, the First Coast Guard District's recreational boating safety specialist. "It seeks to get impaired boaters off the water, while making them aware of the legal consequences as well as the potentially fatal effects of boating under the influence."

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, recreational boating accidents are second only to highway accidents in the number of transportation fatalities. Nationwide, the legal blood alcohol content limit is .08 percent. Consequences for boating under the influence vary by state but include prison, loss of boating or driving privileges, and fines.

Alcohol can impair a boater's judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time. Alcohol also increases the effects of common stress factors related to boating such as sun, wind, vibration, and motion, USCG notes.

Johnson adds that since 1998, USCG's First District--which covers northern New Jersey to the Maine/Canada border--has suffered the loss of 39 recreational boaters and paddlers over the Fourth of July weekend. Eighteen deaths were alcohol related, which is more than double the annual nationwide average. For more information visit http://operationdrywater.org/.

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