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During summer, more focus on drunk boating in Illinois

Posted on in Drunk Driving Accidents

It&s officially summertime. And that means that boaters will be taking advantage of the warm weather and spending time out on Lake Michigan and other recreational lakes in Illinois. Unfortunately, along with the fun on the water and sometimes party atmosphere comes the danger of drunk boating.

For whatever reason, public awareness on drunk boating may not be keeping pace with the awareness and stigma surrounding drunk driving. Illinois and national organizations put significant efforts toward targeting drunk driving and law enforcement officers are focused on catching impaired drivers and preventing DUI accidents. These efforts are not yet mirrored on the water. But drunk boaters can be just as dangerous and just as deadly.

Water traffic doesn&t have roads or dotted lines to keep them out of the way of other boaters. And given the recreational nature of boating, there are often people in the water swimming, skiing or tubing. With the limited number of "traffic rules", it is up to the drivers of the boat and swimmers to stay out of the way of each other.

The partying nature of boats also makes them quite dangerous. Drinking in cars has long been taboo but many times people treat their boat like a backyard patio space, with coolers and food and music. If the driver is drinking with his guests, this presents a problem.

Last year, out of all the deadly boating accidents nationwide, alcohol played a role in almost 20 percent. Illinois doesn&t fare well in the statistics either. Until last year, the number of alcohol-related boating accidents was increasing in Illinois, contrary to the decreasing national trend. Two years ago, only one state had more alcohol-related boarding deaths than Illinois. In 2012, there were five boating deaths involving alcohol.

Similar to drunk driving accidents, victims of boating accidents do have the opportunity to recover from a negligent party. Driving a boat under the influence is negligent behavior. And if a driver causes an injury because of this reckless behavior, he or she could be liable to the injured party.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Editorial: Boating and drinking - Don&t do it," June 20, 2013

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