The tragic boating deaths of three youths last summer on Lake Lanier prompted the Georgia state legislature to pass harsher safety laws. On April 23, Governor Nathan Deal signed into law Senate Bill 136, which lowers the legal blood alcohol limit for boating from 0.10 to 0.08. The legal blood alcohol limit for boating under the influence (BUI) is now the same as that for driving under the influence (DUI).
Facts about boating under the influence, a primary cause of boating deaths
Here are some key facts from the U.S. Coast Guard notes the following reasons why BUI is more dangerous than DUI:
- The marine environment augments the effects of a drinker’s impairment — the movement and vibration of a boat on the water increase unsteadiness
- Most boat operators are less experienced at piloting a boat than driving a motor vehicle
- Inner ear disturbances can prevent a drunken person who falls into the water from telling the difference between ‘up’ and ‘down’
- The risk of hypothermia is increased by alcohol consumption — drinking creates a physical sense of warmth, which may delay people from getting out of cold water, causing them to be overcome by hypothermia
- A boat operator with a blood alcohol concentration above .10 is approximately 10 times more likely to die in a boating accident than boaters with no alcohol in their system
Main causes of boating accidents
According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2012 annual Recreational Boating Statistics report, the primary factors that contribute to boating accidents are the operator’s inattention or inexperience. Improper lookout, excessive speed and violating the rules of navigations are other key contributors.
In short, operator’s malfeasance is more frequently the primary contributing factor to accidents than adverse weather conditions. Thankfully, this means that becoming a better boater is likely to help one avoid most accidents.
How to keep yourself safe
The best thing you can do to prepare for a boating accident is educate yourself thoroughly about boating navigation techniques, safety, and rules of waterway etiquette. There are some outstanding boating safety courses offered by the U.S. Coast Guard and other organizations that have proven to drastically reduce injury and death rates of their graduates. Consider taking one before your next boating day at Lake Lanier.
Need a lawyer with experience representing clients who have been involved in boating accidents? Discuss your case with our award-winning law firm
The lawyers at The McGarity Group handle a wide range of personal injury cases, including boating accidents. To discuss your case and determine the best course of action, call us today at (877) 851-4261.