Water Craft and Boating Safety

Water Craft and Boating Safety

Warm weather is coming, and that means people will be enjoying the outdoors and water sports. We need to be careful when being around the water. One minute it can be beautiful and fun and the next it can turn into a life threatening accident.

If you use a Jetski or other personal water craft (PWC), you should be aware of the dangers and how to keep yourself and others safe. Statistics show that there are currently over 1.48 million PWCs in use with annual riders each year totaling over 20 million Americans. A PWC is a boat just like any other motorized vessel and must obey the navigational rules.

The vast majority of operators do not possess their own PWC, and are either using a friend’s craft or renting one. As a result, probably most operators have not received proper education in the unique handling and operational characteristics of PWCs. The most important safety recommendation if you plan to operate a PWC is to take a boating and safety course that also includes the workings of a PWC. Coast Guard statistics show the most common cause of boating accidents involve operator inexperience, excessive speed and operator inattention. A National Transportation Safety Board reports indicates that roughly 84% of PWC accidents involved operators who had no boating safety education or instruction. Areas of concern will be addressed in any boating and safety class.

Other safety tips include:

  • Always wear a Coast-guard approved life vest when operating or riding on a PWC; remember, they float, you do not.
  • Operate defensively at safe speeds and safe distances from other people, objects and other watercraft.
  • No wake jumping within 100 feet of another vessel.
  • No weaving in and out of congested traffic
  • Take early action to avoid collisions; remember, PWCs do not have brakes – a PWC can take up to 300 ft to stop from 60 mph.
  • Do NOT release the throttle when attempting to turn or steer away from danger – you need throttle to steer.
  • Attach engine shut-off cord/lanyard to your life vest or wrist so that the engine stops if you fall off.
  • Respect natural or ecologically sensitive areas and the animals that make the water their home.
  • Never operate a PWC after consuming drugs or alcohol.
  • Never allow an underage individual to operate a PWC.
  • Do not operate a PWC before sunrise or after sunset.
  • Never carry more than the maximum number of passengers designated for your PWC.

These are a few tips for fun and safe operation of a PWC to keep in mind this spring and summer. There are many websites on the internet that can provide additional safety information, as well as locations for the boater safety classes mentioned above.

Remember, PWC riders will be sharing the water with many other boaters, swimmers, etc.; please show them all the consideration they deserve, and hopefully PWC riders will show others the same courtesy.

About the Author: Paul Hux is the managing trial attorney for the Petersburg, Virginia office of Allen & Allen. Paul specializes in cases involving car accidents, truck accidents and boating accidents. With a strong work ethic, he is dedicated to meeting the needs of every client.