PWC riders: Ride right or pay the price

7 April 2017

A recent spate of collisions and a wave of public concern has prompted a crackdown on riders of personal watercraft (PWC).

Transport Safety Victoria (TSV) has launched a blitz on rogue PWC riders, with more Water Police hitting hot spots and fining those who break the rules.

PWC blitz image

Photo: A boating safety officer checks marine licences

Peter Corcoran, Director of Maritime Safety at TSV, explained that the irresponsible behaviour of some PWC riders was a danger to themselves and others.

"You have to make sure you're not riding too quickly or too closely to someone else. Given that PWCs weigh more than 300 kg and can reach speeds of 100 kph in less than 10 seconds, a bad crash could be fatal," Mr Corcoran said.

"It's vital to keep a good lookout - we're seeing people leaping over waves not realising someone else is on the other side, or taking a sharp turn directly into someone else."

Boating incident experts liken a PWC crash to two motorbikes colliding – riders have suffered broken bones and in some cases life-altering injuries.

There were 10 collisions in December/January and three of them resulted in serious injuries – a substantial increase on five collisions in 2015-16 and one in 2014-15.

"To combat this trend, we are putting more resources into compliance. Riders, and all those on or being towed by the PWC, must wear a lifejacket, keep their distance from others, travel at a safe speed and keep a good lookout at all times," Mr Corcoran said.

The speed and distance rules vary depending on location, for example 5 knots applies where there is signage, within 50m of swimmers and 200m of shore. Riders should brush up on the rules and practise judging distances.

PWC manufacturers and riders have developed a Responsible Riding code of conduct and all riders are encouraged to commit to it.

"A minority doing the wrong thing gives all riders a bad name – show you're not one of them by signing up to the code," Mr Corcoran added.

For a copy of the code of conduct, as well as details of safe operation, rules and hoon laws applicable to PWCs, visit transportsafety.vic.gov.au/msv/pwc

For more information or pictures, please contact
Antonia Preston, Strategic Communications

T 03 9655 3332, M 0426 278 301,
E antonia.preston@transportsafety.vic.gov.au