Operation Dry Water: Raising Awareness About BUI

Operation Dry Water (ODW) is a year-round boating under the influence (BUI) awareness and enforcement campaign. Launched in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, OWD aims to “change the cultural acceptance of drinking and boating and help boaters have safe and fun recreational boating experiences.”

Drinking while boating is a pervasive problem among recreational boaters. In fact, the USCG 2016 Recreational Boating Statistics list alcohol use as “the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 15% of deaths.”

In addition to its year-round awareness initiative, every Fourth of July weekend ODW works with the USCG and law enforcement agencies across the country to step up enforcement of BUI laws. This year, Operation Dry Water Weekend was held June 30–July 2. Agencies are still reporting the extent of this year’s activities, but at least 7,092 boating citations were issued and 411 BUI arrests were made.

Refraining from drinking while operating a boat can go a long way in decreasing accidents and fatalities on the water. Here are 3 other key precautions the USCG recommends to stay safe on the water:

  • Wear a lifejacket: The USCG estimates that life jackets could have saved the lives of over 80 percent of boating fatality victims.
  • File a float plan: Without a float plan you are counting on someone else to remember detailed information that rescue personnel need in order to find you.
  • Carry nautical charts: The USCG reports that “one of the most important tools for safely navigating waterways is the Nautical Chart. Today, many recreational boaters use GPS receivers and perform electronic waypoint navigation. Although a GPS can tell you where you are in terms of latitude and longitude, it cannot show what is around or beneath the boat, or what obstacles may be in the way.”
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