UNION COUNTY – As the summer boating season gets under way, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has joined with the U.S. Coast Guard to remind residents of the increased risk of fatal accidents from alcohol and substance abuse.
Starting on Friday June 22, Union County’s Police Marine Unit will be participating in the Coast Guard’s seasonal stepped-up enforcement of BUI (boating under the influence) laws, known as “Operation Dry Water.”
“Boaters are at even greater risk than drivers for fatalities, since water adds a significant risk element for the operators, their passengers, and other boaters,” said Freeholder Chairman Mirabella. “Union County is proud to support the U.S. Coast Guard in its efforts to ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable summer.”
Operation Dry Water is an initiative launched in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the United States Coast Guard, in order to help prevent fatalities from recreational boating.
U.S. Coast Guard data from last year showed that alcohol was the main factor in 16 percent of recreational boating accident fatalities.
Along with raising the potential for a collision or other accident, alcohol and drugs can impede a person’s ability to swim, or to survive long periods in cold water.
In particular, alcohol’s effect on balance raises the risk of falling off a boat, and it can also prevent a person immersed in water from distinguishing between up and down.
The boating environment also includes stress factors that can intensify the effects of alcohol and drugs, including sun, heat, vibrations, noise, and motion.
“We’d also like to remind persons on prescription medication to check with their doctor before going on the water,” said Mirabella.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, BUI can result in severe penalties including impoundment of the boat and arrest of the operator.
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