Although cellphone usage while underway is a violation of the U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules - which require mariners to maintain a proper “lookout” by sight and sound - the problem of mobile device distraction among on-duty mariners persists with liability and litigation looming in its wake.
In this widely-viewed video of the Delaware River Duck Boat Accident, it is easy to see how taking just a moment to check your cell phone can have deadly results.
In his article "Texting Liability Hits the High Seas And So Far, It’s a Rough Voyage," MOPS attorney and president of the Board of Commissioners of Pilots of the State of New York James E. Mercante highlights several maritime incidents that have been attributed to mobile device use and suggests that legislation restricting their use may soon be on the table.
Intellectually we all realize the vital importance of abstaining from mobile device distraction, yet we know all too well how, in the moment, it can seem like a harmless risk “just this once”...but just this once could be your or someone else’s last.
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