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VOL. 11 NO. 6
Take a class

Don't text and boat

Distractions on the water can lead to trouble

Don't text and boat

The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission says that sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. On waterways across the country, recreational boaters know that five seconds is a world of time to get into trouble. Unlike driving on a road, boats can approach from any direction, come in all shapes and sizes and move at different speeds. Boaters who bring smartphones aboard should be aware of the risk of distracted boating.

"Cellphones are the primary communication device for many boaters," said BoatUS Foundation Assistant Director of Boating Safety Ted Sensenbrenner, but he advises using them wisely. "If you're texting from the helm, you’re likely not helming the boat."

Adding to the challenge—and unlike automobiles—is boating’s unique stressors of sun, glare, wind, waves and vibration. Research shows that hours of exposure to these boating stressors produces a kind of a fatigue, or "boater's hypnosis," which slows reaction time almost as much as if you were legally drunk. Adding alcohol multiplies the accident risk.

Cellphones, alcohol and other factors can hinder knowing what’s going on around you, or your situational awareness. To improve your situational awareness, Sensenbrenner says you can avoid texting while steering, slow down, post extra lookouts, and wait for your safe return ashore before enjoying alcohol.
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