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Look out for untrained PWC operators

In the last few weeks of summer, you may be looking forward to taking your personal watercraft to the beach as often as possible. Riding your PWC may be one of your favorite ways to spend a hot day on the water, and you want to get every opportunity to hit the waves before the weather turns cooler.

Unfortunately, there may be others on the water who are not as skilled, experienced or cautious at handling their machines. It is these PWC operators who present the greatest danger to you and others on the water. Many unskilled riders think that because a PWC is small, it must be easy to handle without much instruction. This assumption results in many tragedies.

A different kind of water vessel

The U.S. Coast Guard reports that 30 percent of all boating accidents involve personal watercrafts. More injuries and deaths occur when PWCs collide than in any other type of accident involving a PWC. Common injuries include broken limbs, broken teeth, and broken tailbones, but many deaths occur from blunt-force trauma or broken necks caused when PWCs collide or when someone falls from a PWC and is struck by another craft.

Collisions and struck-bys often happen when the operators are unfamiliar with how a PWC works. Riding a PWC is very different from operating most other vehicles, for example:

  • They have a much sharper, faster turning radius than boats.
  • You are not able to steer the machine when you release the throttle.
  • A PWC has no brakes and must come to rest by the natural resistance of the water.
  • A PWC is very difficult to maneuver at high speeds.

Novice riders are not always able to judge how fast they are going, and this makes it difficult to stop or steer in time to avoid an accident. A novice rider may release the throttle to avoid a collision, rendering the PWC incapable of steering.

Getting used to these unique handling features takes instruction, training and practice. While several establishments in Myrtle Beach offer a free lesson with the rental of a PWC, one lesson is rarely enough to learn to safely control the craft. Additionally, many vacationers may ask to try a friend's PWC, and this often leads to tragic accidents. If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of the careless or reckless actions of someone else on a personal watercraft, you have the right to seek legal advice about your options.

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