Authorities advise safety when operating watercraft - WSMV News 4

Authorities advise safety when operating watercraft

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Tennessee is increasing its efforts to make sure boaters are better educated.

Many are drawn to the lake by the splashing water, roar of the engine and promise of fun. But for many, that fun is getting out of hand and turning dangerous.

"These jet skis weigh 600 to 1,000 pounds," said Eric Anderson, boating education officer with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. "I don't think you'd want to drive a four-wheeler or a car at your buddy and turn at the last second."

That is what TWRA officials believe may have happened last weekend on Old Hickory Lake, ending in a T-bone crash. Two teens from Portland, TN, suffered injuries to their legs and faces.

In many instances, lack of experience is the cause. Officials with the TWRA said there are as many accidents on boats as there are on personal watercrafts. They recommend a boater's safety course.

The course is just a couple of days in the classroom, or can be taken online.

"The course is required for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1989," Anderson said.

According to the TWRA, that requirement is right in line with the crowd that tends to ride personal watercrafts. The average rider is in their teens or early 20s.

Very specific laws apply to personal watercrafts.

"You can't operate them between sunset and sunrise," Anderson said. "You have to stay 100 feet from other vessels."

The TWRA said safety information like this saves lives, and a $10 permit is better than a citation.

The TWRA is on the water every day, trying to keep people safe and having fun.

People who rent a personal watercraft are advised to be careful. Most training videos are for the watercraft and don't teach the actual laws.

For more information on the boater's education course, visit

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