Personal watercraft (commonly called jet skis) are a popular way of exploring and enjoying Victoria’s many beautiful waterways.

But it’s important that jet ski riders drive safely while having fun on the water.

Most riders do the right thing, but some don’t follow the speed and distance rules all boaters must meet for their safety and the safety of others.

Although only a small number of reported incidents involve jet skis, riders who breach rules are both a potential safety risk and a nuisance for other waterway users.

Safe Transport Victoria’s new summer behaviour change program, Cool your Jets, reminds jet ski riders they must slow down to 5 knots when within 50 metres of other vessels and swimmers.

A 5 knots speed limit also exists close to the shoreline with rules for different types of waterways. On coastal and enclosed waters the speed limit applies within 200 metres of the shore, on bayside beaches at the southern end of the Mornington Peninsula it’s 500 metres, and on most inland waters it’s 50 metres.

It’s easy to follow the 5-knot rule – if there is a visible wake behind your jet ski, then you’re going faster than 5 knots.

Boaters and jet skiers must know the rules that apply to the waters they’re on – including the speed and distance regulations that apply to all powered vessels. Grab a copy of the boating safety handbook for more details.

Boating and swimming zones were established by Parks Victoria between 2010 and 2016 that create swimming-only and boating-only zones within Port Phillip Bay, to allow all recreational waterway users an opportunity to safely enjoy the water.

Cool your Jets will run throughout summer, reaching riders through a series of videos, social media posts, and water-side activation events.

A joint-agency operation by Safe Transport Victoria, Victoria Police, and Parks Victoria will see compliance officers out on the water throughout this summer making sure jet ski riders do the right thing.

Some safety tips for jet ski riders include:

  • Carry your marine licence with PWC endorsement
  • Wear a lifejacket and attach the engine kill switch to the lifejacket – if you fall off it will cut the engine and allow you to get back on board
  • Maintain a proper lookout at all times and travel at a safe speed
  • Carry a waterproof buoyant torch
  • Carry an EPIRB if you’re going more than 2 nautical miles off-shore
  • Respect the rules, others, wildlife, and environment
  • Carry a phone and personal locator beacon (PLB) so you can call for help, wear protective clothing and let someone know before you go.

Read more advice on how to stay safe on jet skis (personal watercraft).