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Report Highlights Dangers Of Drinking & Boating


New Report Highlights Dangers Of Drinking And Boating

One in twenty five boaties surveyed at boat ramps in March and April last year were over the legal alcohol limit for driving a car, according to a report by the Injury Prevention Research Centre at the University of Auckland released today.

ALAC and the Maritime Safety Authority, who jointly sponsored the study, are urging both passengers and boaties to watch their alcohol intake over the coming weeks, as thousands of people head for the water to watch the America's Cup racing and join in the party atmosphere.

"If these research figures hold true for the America's Cup, where there may be 3000 boats on the water to watch the races, we could be looking at 120 boaties out on the water over that limit," said the Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC)'s northern region manager Ron Tustin.

A previous study has also shown that one in four of those who die in boating accidents are over the alcohol limit for driving a car.

The most recent survey showed that although nearly 80 percent of respondents thought that alcohol increases the chance of drowning, nearly 50 percent thought that it is safe for passengers to drink alcohol if the operator is sober, and this also raises concerns.

"Many people don't realise the risks of heavy drinking for passengers," said the Director of the Maritime Safety Authority, Russell Kilvington. "Unlike drink driving, passengers on boats put themselves at risk by heavy drinking. The effects of alcohol both increase a passenger's chance of falling off a boat and decreases their ability to swim and avoid drowning once in the water."

The survey showed that beliefs as to what are safe drinking levels on the water vary greatly; only 4 percent think it is safe for the operator to drink five or more drinks immediately before or during a two-hour outing, while 10 percent think it is safe for the passenger to do so. However, 21 percent think it is safe to drink five or more drinks while the boat is moored, even though there is still a risk of falling overboard and drowning.

On the positive side, 99 percent surveyed said they could swim, 84 percent knew to stay with the boat if it capsized within one kilometre of the shore, 76 percent had considerable boating experience and 64 percent had heard about the risks of alcohol and boating in the past 12 months.

The results of the survey will be used to raise awareness of the hazards of drinking alcohol while boating.


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