In separate accident involving a jet ski: a sophomore wide receiver from Duke University suffered head injuries and remains in critical condition; three women died and four others injured after the former’s jet ski collided with a 20-foot powerboat; a pop-reggae star was critically injured after his jet ski crashed into a Miami Beach bridge; and, a former astronaut who piloted the Atlantis space shuttle in 2008, died after another jet ski crashed into the one he and his 22-year-old son was riding.
Jet skis, also known as personal water crafts (PWC), immediately became popular after these were first introduced in the mid 1960s by Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP); BRP called it Sea-Doo at the time. The reasons why these vessels immediately became popular were because of their affordability, low maintenance cost, ease of use, and their ability to operate in shallow waters (close to shore), reach a speed that is above 65 mph, and high maneuverability.
Though much smaller that a real boat, a jet ski has the power of a much larger boat. Besides the danger of being operated by inexperienced, inattentive or intoxicated individuals, crowded waterways, and speedy and erratic jet skis increase the likelihood of accidents that may result to serious injuries or even death. This is why taking a boating safety course, though not mandated in some states, is important for boat or PWC owners, as well as for all those thinking of going on a boating adventure or operating a jet ski in the near future.
In 2007, reckless or careless driving was identified to be the leading cause of jet ski accidents. Based on the definition made in the Personal Watercraft Act of 2005 in the U.S., the meanings given to reckless driving includes, but are not be limited to the following:
- Weaving or wake jumping through congested traffic;
- Following too close to another vessel, including another personal watercraft; and,
- Swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision
There are, currently, 1.3 million Americans who own a jet ski and more than 85 million who use at least one every year. Rules and regulations on the operation of jet skis vary by state, though the most basic ones include proving that one is at least 12 years old (some states require 16 as the base age), attending a very short lesson on how to safely operate a jet ski and, for those who intend of renting one, a fee of $95 per hour.
Operating a jet ski requires not just love for thrill and adventure; more than these, it necessitates knowledge on proper and safety operation and the intent to operate one safely, that is without being a threat to the safety of others.
In their website, the Charleston boating accident lawyers at Clawson Staubes, LLC: Injury Group mentions how serious injury can result when jet skis are operated by someone who fails to exercise good judgment or follow the law. Reckless or careless operation of a jet ski continue to injure and kill hundreds of innocent individuals every year. No one is taking away your right to enjoy and have great fun on the water; however, having fun should not be without exercising responsibility. If you cause an accident because you acted recklessly, regretful or not for what your recklessness resulted to, your actions shall certainly have legal consequences.