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Operation Dry Water sees gains in national participation

Significantly more law enforcement agencies are participating in Operation Dry Water, a national campaign that is now in its fifth year and is designed to educate people and enforce laws on drunken boating.

This year, 585 local, state and federal agencies joined forces in every U.S. state and territory for the campaign’s annual heightened awareness and enforcement weekend and removed 318 intoxicated boat operators from waterways.

The three-day weekend took place June 27-29.

The increase in law enforcement participation led to a positive increase in recreational boater outreach, as well. During the designated weekend this year, law enforcement officers contacted 146,711 boaters as part of their education and awareness efforts.

There was also an increase in national media coverage of the campaign, another way Operation Dry Water is getting the message out to boaters to never boat while under the influence.

"Alcohol still remains the leading contributing factor in boater deaths, so we are proud to see the growth in both law enforcement and outreach and awareness efforts taking place across the country,” Operation Dry Water spokesman John Fetterman said in a statement.

“The year-long campaign has developed public service announcements, messaging materials, news articles and conducted media interviews calling attention to the risks associated with boating under the influence,” Fetterman said. “Potentially every impression could result in a life saved. Take a boating safety class, wear your life jacket and boat sober to help us assure you and your family a fun and safe boating experience.”

Since the launch of Operation Dry Water in 2009, boating fatalities with alcohol named as a contributing factor have decreased from 19 percent to 16 percent in the United States. However, alcohol use continues to be the leading known contributing factor in recreational boating deaths in this country.

Now in its fifth year, Operation Dry Water was launched by the National Association of Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the Coast Guard.

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