While summertime is the ideal time to get a boat out on New Jersey waters, it is also a time during which people put themselves at risk. According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s annual boating statistics, New Jersey saw 111 accidents on the water last year, three of which were fatal.
Though not every accident can be avoided, there are certain precautions people can take to ensure their safety. For example, experts note that every boat should have enough life jackets onboard so every passenger has one. Further, children who are younger than 6 should wear life jackets at all time.
Perhaps one of the most important safety tips is to avoid alcohol. The U.S. Coast Guard points out that alcohol has been linked to roughly one-third of boating fatalities that are recreational. This occurs in part because someone driving a boat is more likely to feel the effects of alcohol quicker than someone driving a vehicle. The following factors illustrate the danger behind this:
- The motion and vibration of a boat can exacerbate the inebriation.
- Boat operators are typically less experienced on the water than they would be driving on the road.
- Alcohol will affect balance, which may already be a struggle while on a boat.
An inebriated operator may experience lapses in judgment and a slower reaction time.
The Coast Guard recognizes that many people want to celebrate summer with an alcoholic beverage. If it cannot be avoided, then anyone who drinks and plans to operate the boat should wait at least one hour per drink before attempting to drive. Doing otherwise risks the lives of those on the boat and others at water.