Labor Day Weekend and Recreational Boating

While drunk driving is the leading killer on America’s roads, alcohol impairment is also a leading known contributing factor in recreational boating crashes. Where the primary cause was known, alcohol was listed as the leading contributing factor in 18% of boating deaths in 2020. During the pandemic, drunk driving on our nation’s roads increased by 14% while vehicle miles traveled dropped by 11%. At the same time, more people took to the water as a recreational activity, potentially putting new, inexperienced boaters on the water who would benefit from outreach and education that BUI = DUI.

Alcohol can be even more hazardous on the water than on land. The environmental stressors of the marine environment – motion, vibration, engine noise, sun wind, and spray – accelerate the impairing effects of alcohol. These stressors cause fatigue that makes a boat operator’s coordination, judgment, and reaction time decline even faster when drinking alcohol or using drugs.

MADD supports the Coast Guard in its efforts to remind all boaters to boat responsibly on the water: wear a life jacket, take a boating safety course, attach the engine cut-off switch, get a free vessel safety check, and don’t drink and operate a boat. If your plans include alcohol, consider doing so onshore AFTER you are finished boating for the day and have a non-drinking driver to get you to your next destination on land.

Stay safe this weekend – please don’t drink or use other drugs while driving or operating a boat.


More information about boating under the influence