Monday Minute - Distracted Driving

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There was a viral video of three guys fishing for salmon on the Columbia River as a large powerboat aimed right for them. The man at the helm of the motoryacht was obviously not paying attention or even looking out his helm window as he crashed into the fishing boat. The fishermen jumped overboard before the crash. No one was killed but the fishermen were very lucky.

This is a growing trend on the water and on the road. A recent set of numbers was published in the Panorama automotive publication relating to distracted drivers in cars. While of course this is about driving on roads, I think we can safely make a parallel to boat operators in these days of smartphones and other distractions. How many times have you looked around and noticed a boat owner not paying attention, especially troublesome in crowded harbors like Annapolis, Newport, Lake Union, and Norfolk? Or on long stretches on the ICW, coming upon boat operators totally zoned out from endless days driving the DItch.

  • 60% of drivers make a phone call while driving.
  • 56% of drivers admit to texting while driving in parking lots, which explains the 50,000 crashes that occur each year in parking lots.
  • Drivers who eat and drink while driving are almost four times as likely to cause a collision with another vehicle.
  • Drivers putting on makeup or fixing their hair are three times as likely to cause a crash.

And the scariest statistic of all, and which concerns me most when out on the water, is that only 46% of baby boomers and only 35% of millennials admit they fully concentrate on the road while driving. Whenever I am a passenger in a car, it is frightening how many cars we pass where the driver is texting or otherwise oblivious to the world around them. And it is not just younger people, although they are the worst by far.

And it is also pretty clear that boaters are more likely to be drinking while using their boats. A few beers can alter one's concentration and judgement, which is all too common, unfortunately.

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And then there are the kayakers and paddleboarders who are completely unfamiliar with the rules of the road. That is especially dicey in crowded harbors with small boat rental shops. I once had a couple of kayakers who wanted me to drive over them in my power cat. Oh, yeah, I can only imagine the liability of doing that!

Have a great and SAFE week. BTW, Blue Angel survived her impact with submerged lumber. After a thorough cleaning, and before I put back the seats and gear, Howard and I took my Hunt Harrier out for a spin to make sure she is good to go.