Riding a jet ski (or personal watercraft) is exciting — but dangerous. Although statistics show that jet skis are not involved in more accidents than other watercraft, accidents involving jet skis are more likely to be serious or fatal.
You can minimize your chances of accident and injury while riding a jet ski if you:
- Never operate a jet ski if you have had any alcohol or drugs
- Always wear a fitted, Coast Guard-approved lifejacket
- Make use of whatever engine-stop accessory is provided by the jet ski manufacturer, for example a lanyard worn around the wrist that will automatically shut of the engine if the driver falls
- Do not use waves and the wakes made by boats as ramps
- Are constantly vigilant and stay clear of other boats and the shoreline
Know the Limitations of Your Jet Ski
The best defense against jet ski accidents is knowledge. Many riders assume that a jet ski can stop abruptly, when in fact it takes considerable time and distance to bring a personal watercraft to a complete stop.
A jet ski cannot be steered when the power is off. When the engine is off, a jet ski will continue to travel in the same direction regardless of which way the handlebars are turned.
Legal Requirements When Riding a Jet Ski
Because your actions while operating a jet ski, whether you are an experienced rider or not, can affect the safety and lives of others, it is illegal to do the following:
- Make sharp turns near another vessel
- Jump another vessel’s wake within 100 feet of that or any other vessel
- Follow a boat too closely
- Chase another jet ski in small circles
Oregon law requires boaters, when operating powerboats, to take a course on basic boating skills and/or pass a test to demonstrate basic boating knowledge. Upon passing the test, the boater needs to apply for a boater education card and carry the card when operating any power boat (including personal watercraft or any motorized watercraft) greater than 10hp.