Yesterday, I wrote about boating safety, and I wanted to follow that up with a few tips on personal watercraft safety. Because in many areas, there are more injuries from personal watercraft accidents than from boating accidents.
Personal watercraft are fast & highly maneuverable, and therefore, they’re a lot of fun. But they can also be dangerous. Here are some tips to help reduce the risk of injury:
1. Remember that kids under the age of 13 are not permitted to ride a personal watercraft without an adult, and kids aged 13-17 are not allowed to drive without a Texas Parks and Wildlife boater education certificate.
2. All riders must wear a properly certified life jacket.
3. ASSUME YOU ARE INVISIBLE. That means driving defensively and staying clear of other boaters, fisherman, and other people using the lake.
4. Be cautious around other personal watercraft. A number of people are seriously injured each year when their personal watercraft collide, often because the drivers are goofing around. Don’t let that happen to you.
5. You must drive at no-wake speed within 50 feet of shoreline. Not only is this one a law, but it’s also a source of continued injuries. A number of people are injured or killed each year because they are going too fast and lose control of their watercraft and hit the shore.
6. Avoid riding and drinking. Remember that being in the sun, on the water, and in motion all amplify the affects that alcohol have on you.
7. Know the area. Concealed dangers are a problem, particularly on Lake Travis, where levels change constantly.
8. In Texas, it is illegal to ride your personal watercraft in the dark (between sunset and sunrise).
These are all important. But perhaps the most important item (and the most difficult to remember) is to don’t let go of the thrust when turning. When confronted with an emergency, the natural instinct is to let off the accelerator and turn. But in most personal watercraft, when you let off the thrust, then you lose the ability to turn.
We’re blessed in Central Texas to have several good lakes for personal watercraft use. Just make sure that you’re being smart when enjoying these “gifts.”
We hope you don’t have any problems while using your personal watercraft, but if you are injured by the negligence of others, please call us so we can try to help. You can call us at (512)476-4944 or you can submit your case using the submit a case forms throughout the site.