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What you need to know about personal watercraft safety

On Behalf of | May 25, 2023 | Auto Accidents

Water sports lovers flock to Florida thanks to its clear blue waters and warm sunny weather. Having a jet ski or any other personal watercraft (PWC) would give you even more freedom to explore the water. But before you go on an adrenaline-pumping ride, knowing the potential risks may help prepare you in case something goes wrong.

Dangers lurking on the surface

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there were 195 personal watercraft accidents in 2021. Among the leading causes were reckless driving, inexperience and inattention. Thus, investing in education and training is crucial.

Even if you are careful, you may encounter other dangers on the water. Beneath the water, there are coral reefs, sandbars, and large rocks that can hurt you or damage your jet ski if you collide with them. The impact may lead you to fall over, drown, or lose control of your vehicle.

Staying mindful of surrounding swimmers and other watercraft is also one way to stay safe. Paying careful attention can help you avoid getting into an accident or hurting someone.

While it is unlawful to operate any vehicle drunk, it may not stop an irresponsible rider. Watch out for any drunk boaters as they may exhibit poor judgment, slow reflexes, and lack of coordination that could put you in danger.

Florida personal watercraft laws

Below are just some rules the Sunshine State has for jet skiing and operating other PWC:

  • Riders should have a Boating Safety Education I.D. Card, unless they are licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard, operating on a private lake or pond, accompanied by someone who meets the requirements
  • Riders and passengers should be wearing a personal flotation device
  • Renters must be at least 18 years old
  • Drivers must be at least 14 years old
  • Riders cannot operate a PWC half an hour before or after sunrise

Anyone caught driving recklessly on Florida waters and disregarding the safety of others may face a misdemeanor charge. They may lose their boating license, face jail time or pay hefty fines.

Following rules and taking safety precautions may damper your excitement, but it could save your life. Knowing what to expect on the water, operating a PWC responsibly and spending time on boater training and education may reduce your chances of getting involved in an accident.