Calls for crackdown on skippers who drink

Sydney [AAP]

There is a growing need for authorities to get tougher on skippers who drink behind the wheel, according to new research.

As the Easter long-weekend approaches, Royal Life Saving (RLS) is warning those planning to take to the nation’s waterways that rivers, creeks and streams rather than the ocean are increasingly the most common spots for drownings.

An RLS survey released on Wednesday says there is strong support for stricter breathalysing of skippers and measures to ensure the use of life jackets.

‘We are particularly concerned about safety among the boating community, with high levels of alcohol being recorded,’ RLS CEO Justin Scarr said.

More than one quarter (26 per cent) of the 145 boating and watercraft fatalities in the past 13 years involved a recorded a Blood Alcohol Concentration reading of 0.05, according to the research.

Boat passengers are just as likely as skippers to be involved in accidents, including capsizing or falling overboard as a result of drinking alcohol.

‘We traditionally see a spike in drowning deaths on public holidays and the Easter period is no exception,’ Mr Scarr said.

In the past 13 years, 1001 people have lost their lives in Australian rivers and 35 per cent of all drowning deaths involved alcohol, according to the RLS.

‘The safest thing to do, if you’re going to have a drink, is to wait until you’ve packed up for the day,’ Ms Scarr said.

TOP 10 RIVER DROWNING BLACK SPOTS 1. Murray River (NSW, VIC, SA) 2. Brisbane River (QLD) 3. Yarra River (VIC) 4. Swan River (WA) 5. Hawkesbury River (NSW) 6. Murrumbidgee River (NSW) 7. Sandy Creek (QLD) 8. Derwent River (TAS) 9. Katherine River (NT) 10.Macquarie River (NSW)


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