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Factors that lead to personal watercraft accidents

We have all heard about jet skis, the water vehicles you can rent while on vacation or buy for your own personal use. The popularity of personal watercraft (PWC) is increasing in Florida and other states with beautiful beaches. Though it’s a thrill to ride the waves, PWC can be just as dangerous as cars. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there was 671 PWC accidents in Florida in 2015 – 52 deaths.

If operators and passengers are not following the "rules of the road" while out on the water, accidents can happen. Accidents on the water can happen for a variety of reasons, but it is important to be aware of the common causes of PWC accidents.

Inexperienced riders

Many people rent PWC without having the proper training. It is recommended to take a course and receive a certification before operating the PWC. New riders should be cautious when out on the water for the first time.


Going too fast is one of the top reasons people get into PWC accidents. Speeding while on the water increases your chance of colliding with another vehicle or overturning the PWC. An operator may not realize how long it takes to stop when they are moving 50 or more miles per hour. This also applies when making sharp turns. Making erratic turns while racing can cause an accident, and even drowning.

Dangerous water and weather conditions

Operators need to be aware of the water and weather conditions before heading out on the water. It can be difficult to properly navigate your PWC when the waves are large.

Drinking and driving

Like any vehicle you would drive on land, people should not drive PWC while under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol alters your perception, diminishing your ability to judge distances and other factors while riding. 

Personal watercraft injuries and fatalities are preventable. You’ll want to take lessons before hopping onto a PWC. You also want to take it slow. Everyone can enjoy the thrill of a PWC without going at an unsafe speed. Accidents can also occur when operators do not watch out for other riders. Keeping an appropriate distance is an important step to avoiding collisions.

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