Our boating experts can speak to PWC operations and Rules of the Road as they specifically apply to your case. When appropriate, our marine engineers are available to reconstruct an incident. We also have professionals mariners who can speak to the responsibility of commercial vessels.

Personal Watercraft (PWC) operations & Rules of the Road

The Marine Practice Group at Robson Forensic frequently investigates and reconstructs incidents involving PWCs; including issues related to operator actions, Rules of the Road, safe operating distance/speed, and proper lookout.

Issues common to PWC crashes include:

  • Handling/Maneuverability - PWCs are propelled by the thrust of a jet pump. The pump draws water into the housing and forces the water in a stream out through a steerable nozzle at the rear of the pump housing. When the handlebars are turned, the nozzle directs the stream from side to side turning the craft. If the engine is not pushing the jet of water, there will be no thrust to steer the craft. Without throttle, PWCs have no steering and no way to avoid obstacles.
  • Unpredictable Heading – The speed and agility of PWCs contributes to the thrill of operating these vessels, but may cause uncertainty for other boaters, especially if PWCs are not strictly following the established Rules of the Road.
  • Rules of the Road – USCG guidelines provide direction to take when encountering another vessel on the water. Some of the most common situations are: overtaking, meeting head on, and crossing the bow of another vessel. In each case, one boat is designated as the “give-way” vessel and is required to yield to the other boat, while the other boat, designated as the “stand-on” vessel, should maintain its course and speed.
  • Low Visibility - The shallow draft design of PWCs allows them to be operated in shallow waters and close to shore, but can also make them difficult for other vessels to see, particularly when dead in the water.
  • Certifications - Certification requirements vary from state to state and may require that PWC operators complete coursework and maintain a certificate of boating safety on their body.

Our boating experts can speak to PWC operations and Rules of the Road as they specifically apply to your case. When appropriate, our marine engineers are available to reconstruct an incident. We also have professionals mariners who can speak to the responsibility of commercial vessels.

Contact our experts directly to discuss your case and how we can assist with your investigation.

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Call or submit an inquiry to tell us about your case. Once we determine which expert is best qualified to assist, we will put you in direct contact.