It’s very important to be knowledgable about personal watercraft safety and regulations. According to the US Coast
Guard, the majority of PWC accidents have been related to: operator inattention, underage
operators, reckless behavior, and improperly trained operators. Because of these factors, federal
and state regulations have been implemented pertaining to the operation of PWC.

Federal Regulations

Federal regulations for personal watercrafts include:

● The PWC should have general maintenance and upkeep.
● Emergency electrical cut off lanyard attached to the operator.
● Operators and riders must wear an approved personal flotation device such as a Type II
life jacket.
● Registration information must be properly displayed.
● Sound signaling device such as a horn or whistle
● Backfire flame arrestor and passive ventilation system
● USCG approved BC-1 fire extinguisher in the storage compartment.

Florida State Regulations

Additionally, each state also has regulations pertaining to the operation of PWC operating. Here
are Florida’s:

● Anyone under the age of 21 must take an approved boating safety course and receive an
ID card showing successful completion to operate any with 10 horsepower or more. They
must carry the ID card and a photo ID while operating a PWC or boat.
● Persons under 14 years are not permitted to operate a PWC. Allowing someone under 14
to operate a PWC qualifies as a second-degree misdemeanor.
● Personal watercraft must not be operated between ½ hour after sunset and ½ hour before
sunrise even with the navigation lights on.
● Operators and persons being towed must wear USCG approved Type I, II, III life jackets



Knowing Florida state and federal regulations and following them definitely helps keep people
safe, but it’s also important to use common sense on the water:

● Never operate a PWC while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and never ride with a
person who is under the influence.
● Don’t carry more passengers than the vessel’s rating allows.
● Learn and understand the meaning of navigation marks and signs.
● Never weave through congested traffic.
● Observe slow/no wake regulations within 100 feet of an anchored vessel, shoreline, dock,
pier, boat ramp, marina, marked swim area, a person in the water, etc.
● Respect wildlife and ecologically sensitive areas.
● Take action to avoid collisions and constantly scan your surroundings.
● When crossing paths with another vessel, the craft on the right may continue at the same
speed and direction and you must alter your speed and direction to pass safely behind.
● When meeting another craft head-on, steer to the right and pass like cars.


If you have any questions about personal watercraft safety and regulations, you can call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 850-488-5600.

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