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PWC Dos and Donts
By badriance - Published July 29, 2009 - Viewed 4891 times
Are PWCs dangerous? It depends on who’s driving. According to recent figures from the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the USCG, PWCs represent 9% of all registered vessels in the United States, but account for a whopping 26% of the boating accidents. However, that has not been the experience of the BoatUS Marine Insurance program, where PWCs represent 4.3% of the insured boats but only 3.8% of all accident claims. It demonstrates that PWCs, when operated in a responsible manner (like most BoatUS Members), can actually be safer than other boats. Here are a few tips on how to make sure your PWC experience is a good one.
v Know the age and education requirements for your state. PWC manufacturers recommend a minimum operator age of 16 years old. A boating safety course is a good idea and may be required in your state.
v Wear a personal flotation device (PFD).
v Attach engine shut-off cord (lanyard) to your wrist and keep it free from the handlebars so that the engine will stop if you fall off. After riding, remove the cord to avoid unauthorized use by children or others.
v Never ride after consuming alcohol.
v Never carry more than the maximum passenger load specified for your craft.
v If you loan your craft to a friend, make sure he or she is of legal age, knows how to operate your craft, and is fully aware of these responsible boating rules. Don’t forget -- you are responsible when you loan out your PWC.
v Check your craft internally and externally before you get on the water. Make sure the throttle and all switches are working properly, that fuel and battery lines are securely connected, that no fuel is leaking, and that cables and steering are functioning.
v Passengers should hold on to the person in front of them or the handhold while keeping both feet on the deck for balance during operation. Never allow a passenger to ride in front of the operator.
v Obey local speed limits, whether posted or not. In congested areas, lower your speed.
v Scan constantly for people, objects, and other watercraft. Be alert for conditions that limit your visibility or block your vision of others.
v Don’t release the throttle when maneuvering -- you need throttle to steer.
v Operate defensively at safe speeds and keep a safe distance from people, objects and other watercraft.
v Don’t follow directly behind PWCs or other boats.
v Don’t go near others to spray or splash water.
v Avoid sharp turns or other maneuvers that make it hard for others to avoid you or understand where you are going.
v Avoid areas with submerged objects or shallow water.
v Take early action to avoid collisions. Remember boats, boats, including PWCs, do not have brakes.
v Follow basic boating rules. Sailboats (under sail), large commercial vessels, and vessels engaged in fishing always have the right of way. Stay to the right when approaching an oncoming craft, so that it passes on your left side. When overtaking another boat, pas on the right or left, but stay well clear. If you’re about to cross paths with another boat, the craft on the right has the right of way. Slow down to let the boat continue its course, then pass behind it. Even when you are sure you have the right of way, a good safety rule is to never insist on it.
v If your course takes you across the wake of another boat, make sure your visibility is not obstructed by that boat. Stay far enough behind so that you can see if other traffic is coming your way.
Another great way to protect your PWC and passengers this summer is with quality insurance protection. No one should have to worry about huge repair or medical bills should an accident happen. I recommend the PWC Policy available from BoatU.S. Marine Insurance. Featuring unique coverages like 24-hour emergency dispatch of assistance, Full Salvage & Wreck Removal, Liability protection, and Family Medical Payments, this policy caters to the specific needs of boaters. Visit BoatUS.com/Insurance for a Free Rate Quote.
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