Safety should be your top concern both when you’re enjoying a boat day on the water and when you’re towing your boat to one of Oklahoma’s many lakes. But many boaters overlook how important safety and caution are between those times—when they’re using a boat ramp.
On the surface, boat ramps are simple, straightforward amenities. They’re paved, downward sloping ramps that make it easy for boaters to back their trailers into the water and directly launch their boats from there. But there are plenty of things that can go wrong when using a boat ramp, whether it’s causing damage to your vehicle or boat, or even putting yourself and others in danger.
To safely and effectively use a boat ramp, keep these tips in mind.
Practice backing up with a trailer attached to your vehicle.
Properly using a boat ramp can be tricky even when you’re the only one using it. But boat ramps on holidays and weekends in the summer can be extremely busy, and there’s nothing more frustrating to experienced boaters than a new boater who needs a dozen tries to get properly angled into the water.
Save yourself and others that frustration by practicing first. With the boat trailer attached, head to a large, empty parking lot and practice backing up and angling into parking spaces. Note that your vehicle’s backup camera won’t be of much use with your boat blocking its view, so you’ll have to get used to backing up by using your mirrors and looking over your shoulder.
Use a spotter when it’s your turn to use the boat ramp.
Boating should never be done alone for two reasons. First, it’s safer to be on the water with another person in case you have an emergency. And second, having another person with you means you’ll have a spotter for the boat ramp.
A spotter can guide you down the boat ramp, warn you of any obstacles, let you know if your trailer is angling off-kilter, and tell you when to stop once your trailer is far enough in the water to launch your boat. Your spotter can also drive your boat into the water from your trailer, giving you a chance to park your vehicle and allow others to use the boat ramp.
Go slow and use your brake, not your gas.
Because boat ramps are angled downward, putting your vehicle in reverse means that you’ll barely need to use your accelerator when putting your boat in the water—if you need to use it at all. Controlling your speed on a boat ramp is all about using your brakes.
The slower you go, the more time you have to react to the movements of your trailer and correct its path if it gets out of alignment with the boat ramp. Traveling slowly also makes it easier to maintain a straight line once you get your trailer pointing in the right direction.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
On busy lake days, there’s no shortage of experienced boaters waiting for their turn to get in the water. If you find yourself struggling with your vehicle, trailer, or the boat ramp itself, there’s no shame in asking others for help.
Many boaters are happy to lend a hand to ensure that the boat ramp line moves quickly, and you can also learn a great deal from watching them back your trailer and boat into the water.
Be careful when parking your vehicle and exiting the boat ramp parking lot.
There are many people walking around boat ramps and their parking lots. That’s why it’s important to be on high alert not just when you’re launching your boat, but also when you’re parking your vehicle after getting your boat in the water and after you’ve gotten your boat back on your trailer.
You should always drive slowly and cautiously through parking lots, especially when you know there are many pedestrians nearby. Take extra care if you need to back up to park or exit the parking lot, as your backup camera may not be able to show you if there are any pedestrians nearby or directly behind you.
We’re Oklahoma’s Boat Accident Lawyers
Safely getting your boat to the boat ramp, launching it into the water, and enjoying a day with friends and family can be a stressful experience, but as with most things in life, experience and repetition make it much easier and faster. Continue practicing and following the tips in this guide and you’ll be a boat ramp pro in no time.
But when others are reckless at boat ramps, on the water, or even on the road to get to your favorite lake, all the practice and experience on the road may be unable to prevent you from being hurt in a crash. That’s where we come in. At Parrish DeVaughn, our Oklahoma City boat accident lawyers can help you get the compensation you’re owed after an injury that wasn’t your fault. Contact us today.