Ten Tips For Safe Personal Watercraft Operation
Are PWCs dangerous? According
to Boat Owners Association of The United States,
the answer to that question depends on who is
driving. The most recent figures from the U.S.
Coast Guard and National Marine Manufacturers
Association show that PWCs (personal watercraft)
represent 9% of all registered vessels in the
U.S. , but account for a whopping 26% of reported
However, BoatU.S. recently looked
at the issue and reviewed its member’s insurance
claims files. Interestingly, it found that while
PWCs represent 4.3% of all insured vessels, they
account for just 3.8% of all reported accident
claims. So what explains the fact that BoatU.S.
PWC insureds have significantly lower accident
“More boating experience
and boating safety education is the answer,”
said Bob Adriance, editor of BoatU.S. Marine Insurance’s
Seaworthy magazine. “Our members, on average,
have more experience and education compared to
the general boating population," said Adriance.
"But you don’t need years of boating
experience to understand the principles of safe
Adriance offers the following
10 tips that can help PWC operators stay safe:
- Know your state’s
age and education requirements. PWC manufacturers
recommend a minimum operator age of 16 years
- Even if your state doesn’t
require it, PWC operators should take a boating
safety course, one that includes the unique
handling and operational characteristics of
PWCs. (The BoatU.S. Foundation has an online
PWC course available at http://www.BoatUS.org/onlinecourse/watercraftcourse.htm
- BoatU.S. claims files show
that 70% of PWC collisions are with another
vessel, the majority of which are other PWCs.
Try to gain on-the-water PWC experience in
an area away from busy waterways – and
other PWCs – where there is plenty of
- Always wear a personal floatation
device, attach the engine shut off cord (lanyard)
to your wrist, and remove the cord when not
riding to avoid unauthorized use. Never ride
after consuming alcohol.
- Loaning out your PWC can
be risky business. A National Transportation
Safety Board (NTSB) report indicates that
roughly 84% of PWC accidents involved operators
who had no boating safety education or instruction.
If you choose to loan out your PWC, be fully
confident that your friend or family member
is of legal age, has completed a boating safety
course, and has the operational ability and
knowledge to operate a PWC.
- If possible, gain some
experience as a passenger on other PWCs before
going out alone. The insights you gain from
fellow PWC operators, such as handling, rules
of the road and good boating etiquette, are
- Before heading out, do a
thorough check of your PWC, ensuring that
the throttle, switches and steering work properly,
fuel lines and battery cables are secure,
and there is no fuel in the bilge.
- Always operate defensively:
keep a safe distance from people, objects
or other PWCs (PWCs can take up to 300 feet
to stop from 60 mph); understand a PWCs handling
characteristics and loss of steering when
off-throttle; and avoid maneuvers that make
it hard for other boaters to understand where
you are going.
- Never carry more than the
maximum passenger load, and never place a
passenger in front of the driver.
that a PWC is a boat, and like every
other vessel must follow basic boating rules.
like to get a free insurance quote for your PWC,
or call 800-283-2883.