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Personal Watercrafts: Potentially Deadly Fun

Personal watercrafts can be highly dangerous vehicles, even for trained professionals. In 2008, the U.S. Coast Guard counted 4,789 boating accidents involving 709 deaths, 3,331 injuries and $54 million in property damage. Watercraft accidents accounted for 23% of that total. The U.S. Coast Guard noted that the top causes of accidents were operator related: carelessness, inattention, no proper lookout, inexperience, excessive speed and alcohol use. Operator errors can be deadly, especially since personal watercrafts are designed to reach speeds of more than 60 mph, where loss of stability and an increased risk of flipping over can occur. Personal watercrafts do not have braking mechanisms and the natural tendency of most operators is to slow down when approaching a hazard. If the operator is not able to turn the craft in time, they may result in a collision with another boat, dock, a swimmer or the shoreline. Considering the high number of personal watercraft accidents resulting in serious injuries, manufacturers must pay more attention to safety. A reverse thruster (to act as a brake, slowing the craft down) and the installation of a protective seatback to prevent drivers and passengers from falling directly behind (but instead to the side) of a jet-propelled watercraft are just a few safety improvements that manufacturers need to consider. To avoid the needless loss of life and serious injuries, personal watercrafts must be redesigned to include far more safety features. It’s time for marine manufacturers to make safety a top priority in designing a new generation of personal watercrafts. As an operator or  passenger be sure there is at least one life jacket for every passenger on board and take every caution to ensure passengers are safe.  Follow established regulations for the waters you are boating  and always avoid unnecessary risks. Source: “A Little-Known Personal Watercraft Danger” The Safety Report Fall 2010: 14-15