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Alcohol and boating can be a deadly combination

As the weather warms, more and more people will be hitting the lakes and rivers in Kentucky to enjoy the sunshine. While water activities can be great for relaxing or even exercising, they are not without risk. In fact, they can be deadly when proper precautions are ignored. As the U.S. Department of Transportation notes, 15 people died in a fatal boating accident in Kentucky in 2000, the year for which the most recent data is available.

There is a common thread among the majority of these fatal incidents on water: alcohol. The U.S. Coast Guard warns that more than half of all boating accidents are alcohol-related. In fact, the Coast Guard reports that boat operators who are intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.10 are 10 times more likely to get into a fatal incident.

Alcohol affects much more than the driver’s ability to steer the boat properly. It can also take a toll on someone’s logic and sense of responsibility. Laws demand that the following precautions are taken on every boat:

  • Every child younger than 6 should wear a personal flotation device at all times
  • There should be a life vest for every passenger on the boat.
  • Boat operators should obey no-wake zones, speed limits and other laws on water.

According to the Coast Guard, in more than 80 percent of fatal boating accidents, the operators lacked formal instruction. Combining inexperience with alcohol is a deadly mix. Anyone planning on boating this year on Kentucky waters should be aware of the risks and take the proper measures to protect themselves.