You are out on the Lake of the Ozarks, enjoying some rare downtime from work. Then your phone beeps with what is no doubt a message about work. Should you check it?
Regardless of how urgent that message might be, you should not check it when you are in control of the boat. If you need to do so, then either stop in a safe place or pass the helm to someone else with suitable knowledge and experience. Here is why:
Cellphones consume your attention
Have you ever tried talking to someone only to realize they have not noticed you are there because they are staring at their cellphone? Have you seen pedestrians step into the street without looking because they are glued to their screens? Or read about people injured or killed in car crashes by drivers using their phones.
If so, you will realize that cellphones are incredibly distracting and that if it is dangerous to use them on the roads, it is also dangerous to use them on the water.
The Lake of the Ozarks is not “The Old Man and the Sea”
People sometimes think of being out on a boat as just you and the water with no one else around. While that might be true for Hemingway’s book, it is certainly not true for the Lake of the Ozarks. You will be surrounded by hundreds of others who also want to enjoy the water.
Hence there is a high crash risk, which only increases when boat operators focus on their phones rather than safely navigating the lake. Remember, many of these others will be drunk or inexperienced, which is rarer to see on the roads, so ensuring you are concentrating is crucial to avoid the risks they pose to you.
Despite your best efforts, you could still have a boating collision. If you notice the other operator was on their phone, you can use that fact to hold them responsible for your injuries.