Study: Boating incidents involving alcohol down sharply in Wis.

MADISON, Wis. — A new study shows boating incidents involving alcohol down sharply this year in Wisconsin, according to a report in the Appleton Post-Crescent.

The study, by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, reviewed reports from the state Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Coast Guard. According to the analysis, the proportion of incidents involving alcohol last year was the lowest in at least a decade. In four of the past 10 years, alcohol was a factor in at least 85 percent of the boating incidents, compared with 21 percent last year.

The report also found that eight of the 20 people who died in boating incidents last year were in non-motorized boats, most of which capsized. Of the 17 who drowned, 15 weren’t wearing life jackets, the study said, and about half of those who drowned over the past decade didn’t know how to swim.

Experts credit stricter law enforcement and a growing public awareness of the dangers of drunken boating for the decline, according to the paper.

“It’s just because it’s becoming in your face that it’s not a good idea,” Dan Thomson, an owner of Fort Fremont Marine, told the Post-Crescent. “At one time it might have been very acceptable, but it’s not anymore.”

Steve Herman, the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department crime prevention coordinator, told the paper he credits an increase in enforcement for making waterways safer.

To read the Post-Crescent‘s full report, click here.

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