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Video Transcript
Rob

Tell us about speed and distance laws regarding PWCs on the water here in Missouri.

Officer Davis

Missouri has two laws that are going to be specific to your speed and distance in relation to personal watercraft on the water. The first one is what we commonly refer to as a 50-foot rule. Fifty-foot rule says you cannot operate above idle speed within 50 foot of another boat, personal watercraft, or a person swimming in the water. If you’re going to get within 50 foot—so you're swimming in the water, and I’m going to pull up and talk to you. When I get within 50 foot, I have to slow down, idle the rest of the way in.

Rob

OK. And what about speed?

Officer Davis

Well, there’s no set speed limit on a personal watercraft. They’re going to have to obey by all the same rules as any other boat does for what is safe with the water conditions and boating traffic. We do have another law, though, that says if you want to jump the wake of a passing vessel, which is a pretty popular activity on personal watercraft, you have to make sure you are at least 100 foot behind them. You don’t want to be too close, so—

Rob

Any crashes come to mind with personal watercraft where people weren’t following proper speed and distance?

Officer Davis

Well, I can think of a couple crashes off the top of my head. One had occurred as somebody was trying to jump the wake on a WaveRunner of a passing boat. The sun got in their eyes. Obviously they were within 100 foot, and they actually landed in the back of the boat. The nose of the personal watercraft was between the operator and the passenger of the boat.

Rob

I hope nobody got hurt.

Officer Davis

Just some minor injuries. Nothing serious.

Rob

Yikes. Anything else?

Officer Davis

Well, you know what? A lot of times, people on personal watercraft—because they are a little peppier, they’ve got some speed and maneuverability—a lot of times people think that they can cut in front of boats because they are fast enough to do it. Unfortunately, we had an accident that occurred a couple years ago where a WaveRunner was turning in front of a pontoon boat. They got too close, and the WaveRunner got struck by the pontoon boat. And the operator of the personal watercraft was killed in that crash.

Rob

Wow. That’s terrible. But it’s just important, I guess, to remember: follow good speed, follow good distance from boats.

Officer Davis

Absolutely. All personal watercraft have to obey all the same rules and regulations as any other boat does. So they need to remember the rules of the road, and follow those. If they’re supposed to be the give-way boat, then be the give-way boat. If you need to be the stand-on boat, then be the stand-on boat. But remember those rules. Whenever you’re out there, you don’t have anything special because you are more maneuverable that says you can do something that another boat can’t.

Rob

Obviously all these rules are here to keep us safe, so I appreciate you filling us in.

Officer Davis

Absolutely. Thank you.