It's always a good idea to practice some restraint when it comes to your alcohol intake while piloting a watercraft, obviously. This Fourth of July Holiday weekend, however, you may want to be even more cautious.

In separate press releases on Friday, both the Massachusetts Environmental Police and the Coast Guard warned boaters not to drink and drive while on the water. Many of us will be taking our boats out onto Onota Lake or Pontoosuc Lake this holiday weekend and the environmental police want to keep everyone safe by enforcing the laws on drinking and boating.

It's happening all over the country this weekend and it's called Operation Dry Water. The goal of the campaign is to reduce the number of people boating while under the influence.

As WWLP/22 News Springfield reports, typically over the course of a holiday weekend, police see an increase in boating under the influence(BUI) accidents. In a media statement, Massachusetts Environmental Police Colonel Shaun Santos had this to say:

The Fourth of July offers an excellent time for us all to get outside, enjoy the water with friends and family, and celebrate the holiday; however, we all must remain responsible while boating to ensure the operator, passengers, and those around us enjoy a safe experience. Importantly, the Massachusetts Environmental Police and other public safety entities will be strongly enforcing the Commonwealth’s BUI law in an effort to reduce tragic incidents from occurring.

According to Coast Guard estimates, approximately 5,265 recreational boating accidents occurred last year, which led to 767 deaths, just under 3,200 injuries, and millions of dollars in property damages.

75% of the fatalities were caused due to drowning. And even more tragic, 86% of those who drowned were simply not wearing a life jacket. The Coast Guard made it abundantly clear in their press release:

Alcohol continued to be the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2020, accounting for over 100 deaths, or 18 percent of total fatalities. Boaters should never operate a vessel or paddle craft under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and should always wear a life jacket.

For more on the story and Operation Dry Water, visit WWLP's website here.

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