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Ohio ranks third nationally in alcohol-related boating accidents

Ohio is home to more than 128,000 linear miles of rivers, streams, creeks and smaller bodies of water. This might be why the number of watercraft operators, including boaters and those operating canoes and kayaks, has increased dramatically in recent years. In fact, last year Ohio had a record number of boating registrations, with an increase of almost 14,000 boaters since 2005.

Ohio has also seen an increase in the number of alcohol-related boating accidents during the previous four years, which might be a result of the increase of the number of boaters on Ohio state waterways.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, Ohio had 18 alcohol-related boating accidents last year which made it the third most deadly state for boating accidents involving alcohol. In fact, alcohol was a factor in five boating deaths along with 21 injuries from boating accidents in Ohio in 2011 alone.

Interestingly, impaired boating involves can not only alcohol use but drug use as well. It is also important to point out that even passengers are at serious risk of a boating accident if they are drinking or using drugs. This is because it is so easy to lose one's footing on a watercraft and fall overboard, even without being impaired.

Another risk is that the operator becomes impaired and then hands over the keys to someone who has never operated a boat, does not understand the rules of the water, or is simply an inexperienced boater.

As a result, this coming weekend the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft is putting forth efforts in what is called Operation Dry Water. This effort is aimed at increasing and concentrating patrols on the lookout for impaired boating. Patrols have been trained to recognize impaired boating, and to test boaters for drug or alcohol use in an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of impaired boating, and in the hopes of keeping Ohio waterways safe from alcohol-related boating accidents.

Source: Pioneer Press, "Ohio steps up patrols, targets impaired boaters," June 23, 2012

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