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Personal watercraft safety

water_pwc155.jpgUse of personal watercraft — such as Jet Skis, Sea Doos and WaveRunners — continues to grow on LCRA-managed lakes. The watercraft are small, fast and highly maneuverable. They also can be very dangerous if operators don't know the safety rules.

Personal watercraft are subject to all boating laws, and other specific personal watercraft regulations as outlined in the Tex​as Water Safety Act.

Important rules for personal watercraft include:

  • Children under 13 are prohibited from operating a personal watercraft unless accompanied on board by a person at least 18 years of age.
  • A Texas Parks and Wildlife boater education certificate and photo ID is required for operators between 13 and 17 years of age. A person is exempt from mandatory boater education requirements if they are at least 18 years old.
  • Each person riding on or towed by a personal watercraft must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • It is illegal to:
    • Operate a personal watercraft between sunset and sunrise.
    • Operate a personal watercraft within 50 feet of the shoreline, structures, swimmers or other watercraft unless at headway speed (or "no-wake speed," just fast enough to steer the boat straight).
    • Jump the wake of another watercraft recklessly or unnecessarily close.
  • Equipment requirements for regular motorboats also apply to personal watercraft, including a sound-producing device and fire extinguisher. Personal watercraft are prohibited on the water after sunset and therefore are not required to display navigation lights.
  • Personal watercraft being used to tow someone must be rated for at least three people – the operator, the observer and the person in tow.
  • The ignition safety switch must be attached to the operator.

People may operate personal watercraft on LCRA-managed lakes during daylight hours, including during holidays. LCRA recommends watercraft operators use extreme caution on the lakes on weekends and holidays, which normally attract high boating traffic.