Maritime Safety Victoria is putting jet ski hoons under intense scrutiny, after little sign of improvement in behaviour as the peak season comes to an end.
“A small but reckless group of jet ski operators are ignoring how dangerous their machines can be,” said Acting Director of Maritime Safety Rachel Gualano. “Much like on our roads, irresponsible operation of high-powered machines, often without adequate experience, poses the threat of serious injury and fatalities.”
Over the coming cooler seasons, multiple agencies will be discussing their options, including stronger enforcement measures, after an unacceptable level of disregard for speed and distance rules.
“Every agency involved in ensuring all water users have equal enjoyment of our bays, rivers and lakes – including Victoria Police – has had enough of the behaviour of jet ski hoons,” said Ms Gualano.
During Maritime Safety Victoria’s ‘Ride Right’ summer campaign, more than 100 personal watercraft (PWC) riders were fined in a Maritime Safety Victoria crackdown assisted by Victoria Police officers.
More than 450 riders of PWCs such as jet skis were approached – and while the vast majority played it safe, some 67 riders received multiple infringement notices for flouting the rules.
The worst locations for jet ski hooning were found to be at Port Melbourne, Safety Beach, Carrum and St Kilda. Further enforcement action will now be considered.
On-water and sophisticated remote surveillance were used to catch the most dangerous riders, and three people are set to face court for allowing their ski to be used by unlicensed friends.
Jet ski riders were recorded exceeding 5 knots in a 5 knot zone, and observed not slowing to 5 knots within 50 m of their friends on jet skis.
Collisions with swimmers or other jet skis cause injuries which can drastically reduce people’s ability to work, impact welfare and lifestyle, or be fatal: causing devastation to the family and friends of victims.
In October, two people travelling the wrong way around Lake Nagambie on a jet ski ended up in hospital after crashing into a tree when swerving to avoid other vessels. In December, a collision between two jet skis in waters at Albert Park resulted in one man being hospitalised and the other being arrested.
Breach of speed and distance rules leads to a $317 fine. Riding an unregistered craft or riding unlicensed can cost $793. If a speed and distance rule offence, or operating unlicensed, is successfully prosecuted, the court may impose up to $3,171 for each offence.
Courts can impose a penalty of $9,514 for operating an unregistered craft. Prosecutions could result in a criminal record.
Check the rules and MSV’s Ride Right safety advice at transportsafety.vic.gov.au/msv/pwc
Maritime Safety Victoria is branch of Transport Safety Victoria, the state’s independent transport safety regulator.
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