A person shall be guilty of reckless operation who operates any personal watercraft recklessly or at a speed or in such a manner as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person, which shall include, but not be limited to:
- weaving through vessels that are underway, stopped, moored or at anchor while exceeding a reasonable speed under the circumstances and traffic conditions existing at the time;
- following another vessel or person on water skis or similar device, crossing the path of another vessel, or jumping the wake of another vessel more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of both vessels and the traffic on and the condition of the waters at the time;
- crossing between the towing vessel and a person on water skis or other device; or
- Steering toward an object or person and turning sharply in close proximity to such object or person in order to spray or attempt to spray the object or person with the wash or jet spray of the personal watercraft.
Anyone who can reach the throttle, such as children under 14 years of age, may seem physically able to operate a personal watercraft. But, the law states that operators must be at least 16 years, or 14 or 15 years old with proof of boater education carried onboard, to operate a PWC. These operators, whether 14 or 40, are expected to make wise decisions, for injuries will only be avoided when the operator is educated about the craft, knows the rules of the water and has the ability to make safe decisions based on all present variables, past experience and consideration of possible consequences.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries encourages all potential operators to take a safe boating course prior to independent operation, especially those with limited boating experience. Safe operation of a PWC must be a conscious decision after learning the facts. The true meaning of PWC is personal responsibility. Help make this year a personal-watercraft-safe year by not being a part of the accident or fatality picture.
Be Responsible! Be Safe! Have Fun!