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Alcohol and fatal boating accident incidents

California lakes, rivers and coastlines offer the prospect of year-round adventures for residents and tourists alike. Unfortunately, though, the safety and well-being of water enthusiasts can be severely compromised by the negligent and reckless actions of boaters. Serious injuries and deaths occur every year as a result of boating accidents, and many of them are linked to alcohol use.

According to the United States Coast Guard, alcohol use was estimated to be the leading cause of fatal boating accident incidents across the country in 2012. Drug use, excessive speeds, and ventilation issues were also major contributing factors in boat-related accidents that year, but alcohol use contributed to 227 injuries and 109 deaths. Beyond that, alcohol use was a factor in more than 11 percent of all boating accidents.

The California State Department of Boating and Waterways explains that alcohol may be a factor in as much as 25 percent of boat fatality incidents, and also contributes largely to related wrongful death claims. When considering the impact that alcohol use can have on the judgment and abilities of boat operators, it is estimated that boaters can experience everything from decreased coordination, cognition and mood at a blood alcohol level of between 0.01 percent and 0.05 percent. And while the effects of alcohol can vary depending on a number of factors, such as the person’s weight and health, it is also believed that environmental conditions relating to the operation of a boating vessel can augment the impact of alcohol on a person.

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