ST. GEORGE — In an effort to reduce the number of people killed or injured in alcohol- or drug-related boat collisions, law enforcement agencies will be conducting an Operating Under the Influence, or OUI, and boating safety checkpoint this weekend at Lake Powell in Page, Arizona.
At least 40 percent of all boating accidents involve alcohol or impaired operators, according to the United States Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division – whose data shows that in boating fatalities involving alcohol use, over half the victims had capsized their boats or fell overboard.
According to the Coast Guard, alcohol is even more hazardous on the water than on land because the marine motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray accelerates a drinker’s impairment. These stressors cause fatigue that makes a boat operator’s coordination, judgment and reaction time decline even faster when using alcohol.
Because alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination, alcohol impairment increases the likelihood of accidents afloat for both passengers and boat operators.
“Alcohol can turn a great day on the water into the tragedy of a lifetime,” the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division said.
OUI checkpoints are conducted to identify offenders and get them off the waterways as well as to inform and educate the public of the dangers of impaired boating, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
“OUI checkpoints are a proven-effective method for achieving this goal,” the Sheriff’s Office said. “By publicizing these enforcement and education efforts, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office and Arizona Game and Fish Department believe boaters can be deterred from operating watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”
Deputies of the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office will partner with officers of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, National Park Service, Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Page Police Department to conduct the OUI checkpoint Saturday from 3-7 p.m.
Traffic volume and weather permitting, all vessels may be checked for safety equipment as well as drugs and alcohol. Operators who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be arrested on the spot, the Sheriff’s office warned, adding:
Our objective is to send a clear message to those who are considering operating a watercraft after consuming alcohol or drugs – Boat Safe, Boat Smart, Boat Sober!
It is our desire that this two-pronged approach of public awareness/education and strict enforcement will allow boating enthusiasts to have an enjoyable and safe recreational experience in Coconino County.
Before launching, boaters are also encouraged to ensure their vessels are properly outfitted with all required safety equipment, such as proper fitting life jackets and working fire extinguishers.
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