The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is teaming with the Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP), the Governor’s Highway Safety Office (GHSO), and the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) to remind drivers to celebrate responsibly, whether they are on the road or on the water.
The collaboration between the agencies was announced during a news conference held Tuesday morning (July 1) at Elm Hill Marina on Percy Priest Lake. TWRA Boating Chief Ed Carter was among the conference’s speakers along with Col. Mike Walker (THP), Director Kendell Poole (GHSO), and Chief Ronald Serpas (MNPD).
The July Fourth holiday again promises to provide one of the year’s busiest boating weekends on Tennessee waters. TWRA wants to emphasize the use of life jackets and responsible use of alcohol while boating, especially during this holiday weekend.
It is important to consider the effects of drinking and driving whether on water or land. In a boat on the water, consuming one beer is equivalent to drinking three beers on land because of external stressors such as engine vibration, wave motion and glare from the sun. Operating a boat with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or higher is illegal in Tennessee, the same as operating a motor vehicle.
“We urge boaters to plan ahead to assure a safe enjoyable day on the water,” said Ed Carter, TWRA Boating Division Chief. “Choose a designated boat operator and driver. No one walks away from a boating accident. BUI/DUI – both are bad news.”
Eighty-nine percent of Tennessee boaters trailer their boat. This means that most boaters transition from the boat to the car for the drive home and is one of the reasons for this multiple agency approach toward a safer holiday.
Wearing a life jacket is the single most effective way to protect boaters and reduce drownings in boating accidents. Eighty percent of those who drown in boating accidents were not wearing a life jacket.
So far in 2008, there have been 70 boating accidents reported that have resulted in 11 fatalities and 28 injuries. Two fatalities from the past weekend of June 27-29 are under investigation. TWRA officers have issued 59 citations for BUI in 2008. Through the same period in 2007, 90 accidents were reported with seven fatalities and 40 injuries. Over a five day period last year, the July Fourth holiday saw 11 accidents with two fatalities and five injuries.
Over the 2008 Memorial Day weekend, there were 13 reported accidents with one fatality and four injuries. Officers arrested 26 for BUI.