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Do we let our guard down on the water?

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With all the beautiful summer days we've been seeing lately, it's no surprise that people have been flocking to area lakes and rivers for recreation. I certainly won't deny that it's fun to hop in the boat and take it for a spin.

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It's no mystery why Minnesotans seem to love the water. With 10,000 lakes around and having spent an entire winter indoors to evade frigid temperatures, most of us don't hesitate at the chance to soak up the sun out in the middle of nearby water sites.

But lately, I've noticed a trend that concerns me. As someone who takes any chance he can get to catch a ride on a friend or family member's boat for an afternoon, I constantly see a lack of caution being used on the waves.

When I think of the safety measures one has to consider when driving a boat, they are the same as driving on land. But there are so many people who fail to put safety first when out on the water, and news in recent weeks has shown that a lack of common sense in a boat is the perfect equation for an accident.

A few weeks ago, a boat sank after a group of youths put too much weight at the front of the vessel. Additionally, one family was forced to abandon ship July 4 when another boater hit them head on and fled the scene.

It's one thing to spot dangerous boating in news headlines, but one only has to troll around area hotspots to witness unsafe practices on the water.

Honestly, I see why some patrons are so inclined to be reckless on the water: people get away with it.

When driving down Highway 10, it's common to want to watch your speed when the authorities make themselves visible all the time. But unless you're a paranoid fisherman who is always on the lookout for game wardens, a lot of Minnesotans seems to believe that there are no police on the water.

Of course, there are laws in place for boaters to follow. But since many boating enthusiasts don't seem to fear enforcement, they tend to toss the rulebook overboard.

When I'm out trolling a lake with family and friends, it makes me nervous to see the guy behind the wheel crack open a beer. I also get goose bumps when jet-skiers play chicken so close to a dock where kids are swimming.

If you ask me, the only difference between water travel and road travel is that there are no lanes on a lake. If drunken driving is a threat on the highway, imagine the horror of an inebriated boater weaving aimlessly during a late-night joyride on a heavily populated lake.

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