KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Operation Dry Water kicked off Friday. The nation-wide push aims to reduce the number of alcohol and drug-related boating accidents and works to save lives.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, or TWRA, is joining in on the effort.
What it really all boils down to is safety. The TWRA will be doing extra enforcement over the next few days, looking for impaired boaters on the lakes. It’s also about education – teaching people why they shouldn’t be drinking and operating a boat.
“I love being on the water. That’s my favorite place in the world is in the water,” said boater Jason Thompson.
In fact, Thompson is planning to spend all weekend long out on the water. That’s also the plan for the TWRA.
“We dread that call, we dread that phone ringing at 12:30 at night and we have to get up and go to that horrible boat accident. It’s all about safety, and so folks can get out here and feel like they can have a good time without putting them or their families in danger,” said wildlife officer Anthony Chitwood.
The mission? To crack down on drunk or impaired boat operators. To do that, it’s all hands on deck.
“We schedule people to make sure we have more coverage on the water and try to make as many contacts as we can out here,” Chitwood said.
Chitwood also explained it’s an educational tool, teaching people why drinking and getting behind the wheel on the water is so dangerous.
“The statistics say that when you’re drinking alcohol on the boat it will affect you about three times greater than what it would in a controlled environment,” he said.
Operation Dry Water has boaters like Thompson feeling safer.
“Nobody wants to go out and not be able to make it back home. It’s great that they’re out here trying to crack down on that stuff,” Thompson said.
For perspective, we asked wildlife officer Chitwood about the amount of BUI’s they write. He didn’t know specifics but said in his county, which is Loudon County, the numbers could be anywhere from 1 to 5 a year usually. There’s other counties he says that could have double and triple that.
Operation Dry Water lasts through the weekend, until July 7.