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Why is drunken boating so dangerous?

There's a certain sense of freedom when you're on the water that you don't have behind the wheel of a car. Maybe that's why so many boaters tend to indulge in a few drinks when they're operating their boats -- even through boating under the influence (BUI) of drugs or alcohol is illegal.

Drink-for-drink, boaters become impaired more quickly than people on dry land due to a combination of the sun, the wind, the motion of the waves, the noise from the boat's engine and other factors. Plus, unlike someone who operates a car virtually every day, a lot of boaters only get out on the water every few weeks -- which means they're less experienced at it.

What are the risks for a drunken boater? Consider these:

  • An intoxicated boater will have a hard time exercising good judgment. Their cognitive powers decline the more that they drink. They may not process information -- including the signs of danger to themselves or others -- quickly enough to respond appropriately.
  • "Blind drunk" is more than just a phrase. Alcohol can cause blurred vision, decreased depth perception and diminished night vision. It can make it harder for someone to focus or see things in their peripheral vision -- all of which can lead to serious accidents on the water.
  • Intoxication and poor physical control of one's motor skills go together. Boaters who are drunk may have little balance and poor coordination, which means that they will take longer to react to anything they see in the water (including other boaters).

When someone operate a boat while drunk, they're ten times more likely to have a fatal accident than someone who is sober -- but they're also more likely to injure or kill someone else, including their own passengers.

If you were injured by an intoxicated boater (even if it was the person at the helm of the boat you were on), find out more about your right to compensation for your losses.

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