‘If you’re texting from the helm, you’re likely not helming the boat’
Good news/bad news: “Cell phones are the primary communication device for many boaters,” said BoatUS Foundation Assistant Director of Boating Safety Ted Sensenbrenner. “So while they’re important to all of us, we have to know how to use them wisely. If you’re texting from the helm, you’re likely not helming the boat.”
The stress of it all: Adding to the challenge and unlike automobiles, says Sensenbrenner, 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.
4 tips to improve situational awareness: Cell phones, alcohol and other factors can hinder knowing what’s going on around you, or your “situational awareness.” Sensenbrenner says boaters can always improve their situational awareness by: 1. not texting while driving, 2. slowing down, 3. posting extra lookouts, and 4. waiting for your safe return ashore before enjoying alcohol.
If you’d like to learn more about safe, smart and clean boating, go to BoatUS.org.