Personal watercrafts like jet skis carry the same safety risks as larger boats. When enjoying a jet ski or similar craft, following the appropriate safety guidelines can help prevent serious injury. Under Texas law, only individuals ages 13 and older who’ve completed the proper training can operate a watercraft. However, those born on or after Sept. 1, 1993, do not have to go through training.
Gear and passengers
All jet ski operators and passengers, as well as anyone getting towed by this type of device, must wear an approved life jacket. The operator must wear the lanyard for the engine switch for models with this safety apparatus.
You cannot legally tow a passenger unless the jet ski has another passenger who can observe or a rearview mirror. You cannot exceed the safe number of passenger’s documented in the personal watercraft owner’s manual.
Speed and operation
You cannot operate a jet ski after dark or before sunrise on Texas waters. You may also not produce a wake when operating a jet ski within 100 feet of another vessel, person, marked swimming area, swim float, pier or dock. The law decreases the no-wake distance to 50 feet in narrow channels, defined as any waterway less than 300 feet wide.
Texas law prohibits:
- Swerving away from a vessel at the last minute on purpose
- Weaving through boat traffic in crowded waterways
- Failing to maintain a safe distance behind another vessel or personal watercraft, defined as faster than 10 mph when closer to 100 feet behind or 50 feet beside the vessel
Suppose you experience a severe injury in a boating crash. In that case, you may have legal recourse if another boater caused the collision. In Texas, you have two years to file a claim for damages to cover medical bills, lost wages and other associated costs of an injury.