Background: There were 783 recreational boating fatalities in the United States in 1994. One contributor to this toll is alcohol-influenced operation of boats. Our study objective was to determine the prevalence of alcohol-influenced motor boat operation, and describe its relationship to demographic factors and other risk behaviors.
Methods: In 1994, a randomly dialed national telephone survey contacted 5238 adult respondents who reported on their operation of motor boats, alcohol use, and other potential injury risk behaviors. Data were weighted to obtain national estimates and percentages.
Results: Of 597 respondents who operated a motor boat in 1994, 31% (206 respondents) reported doing so at least once while alcohol-influenced. Alcohol-influenced operation of a motor boat was significantly more likely among males, individuals between 25 and 34 years of age, and those with greater than a college education. Alcohol-influenced motor boat operation was also more common among those who drove motor vehicles while alcohol-influenced, and those who drove a motor vehicle without using a seat belt.
Conclusions: To decrease alcohol-influenced boating, new strategies should be developed. Strategies used to decrease drinking and driving motor vehicles may prove adaptable to preventing alcohol-influenced boating. More effective means of monitoring alcohol-influenced boating is needed. Alcohol use by passengers on boats should not be overlooked as a problem.