Aside from drunk-driving, another major cause of accident that continues to claim the lives of hundreds of individuals is BWI or boating while intoxicated . The Boating Safety Resource Center, the official website of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division has an online article which says that: BWI is just as deadly as drunk-driving. Drinking will impair a boat operator faster than a car driver and that one-third of all recreational boating accidents are due to alcohol impairment. Because of the dangers brought about by BWI, those who violate U.S. laws regarding it will suffer imprisonment, huge fines and revocation of operator privileges.
The federal BWI law enforced by the United States Coast Guard is applicable to all types of boats, whether these be large ships, rowboats or canoes; it even includes foreign vessels sailing through U.S. territories and U.S. ships on the high seas.
Drinking alcohol while out at sea can affect the balance, coordination, vision and judgment of boat operators and passengers much faster than when alcohol is consumed on land. This is due to the sun, the wind, the sea water mist or spray, the engine noise, and the vibration and motion – the overall marine environment – that the operator and passengers experience. Due to alcohol impairment, capsizing boats and drunken passengers falling over board have been common media report as causing death.
The over-all various threatening effects of alcohol when consumed while on sea include:
- Deterioration of judgment and cognitive abilities, rendering wise assessment of situations, processing of information and making good choices, much harder;
- Impairment in physical control, resulting to failure to make timely reactions to dangers, lack of coordination and problem in balance;
- Decrease peripheral or night vision and depth perception, difficulty in identifying colors, especially green and red; and,
- Failure to pull self out of the cold water, causing hypothermia and death.
According to the Hankey Law Office, states are making tougher laws which will subject to harsher punishments those who will be caught drinking before or while driving a boat. These laws are hoped to prevent some people from operating a boat if they have been drinking, and will sufficiently punish those who continue to act in a reckless and dangerous manner.