Authorities Urge Safe, Sober Holiday Boating

About three times a year, Texas parks and wildlife officials see an increase in boating accidents and drowning deaths. Memorial Day, Labor Day and Independence Day are the biggest holidays for boating and also the worst times for accidents.

 

 

There are two things boating officials want you to know about being on the water.

"The two key points are the alcohol and the life jackets. And if we get people to do that, we're way ahead."

Tim Spice is the boater education manager for Texas Parks and Wildlife. He says operating a boat while intoxicated is just as dangerous as drinking and driving, and just as illegal.

"Alcohol impairs your judgment and your vision and along with that hot sun out there on a beautiful lake where the wave action is going, we call them stressors, they add to the potential for being more intoxicated. So we strongly suggest that you don't use alcohol and operate any type of vessel."

Last year, Texas patrol officers filed 66 boating while intoxicated cases over the July 4th holiday. Six people died in alcohol-related boating accidents in 2011 across the state. Spice says even if you can't control the drinking habits of other boaters, you can make things safer for yourself.

"Fully 70 percent of the drownings across this country could be averted if people just wore a properly fitting life jacket."

Game wardens will be patrolling Texas waterways over the holiday. Spice says the legal limit for drinking while operating a vessel is the same as for driving, with a blood alcohol level of .08.

 

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...