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What is the Age Limit to Ride a Jet Ski? [Video]
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“Is there an age limit for riding jet skis?”, “How old do you have to be to ride a jet ski alone?” These are the typical questions asked when it comes to jet ski riding age limits, and with good reason.
Jet skiing can be dangerous, and families want to know if their kids can ride jet skis or not. Although the question is simple, the answer is quite complex, as it depends on many factors.
Children can ride jet skis as passengers, operators, observers or even have fun behind the jet ski in an inflatable tow vessel, and the applicable laws are different in each case. What’s more, the laws are different from state to state.
Additionally, in many cases, there are different jet ski age limits for rental jet skis, depending on the state or the rental shop’s policies.
It may seem chaotic at first glance, but don’t worry. For your convenience, we, at JetDrift, have gathered all of the necessary information on this topic.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Ride a Jet Ski?
Today’s jet skis are not water toys, and as they are extremely powerful vessels, powered with 200-300 HP engines, they can reach an amazing 60-70 mph top speed. At this speed, the smallest mistake can lead to dangerous situations; that’s why the leading cause of jet ski accidents is the inexperience of the operator.
Children are known for irresponsible behavior and poor decision-making, so always pay attention to the age limits of jet skiing before let your kid(s) ride!
Depending on the situation, a kid can ride a jet ski in several ways, like:
- Riding as passenger
- Riding as an observer while the jet ski’s towing a wakeboarder or tuber
- Operating the jet ski with parental guidance on board
- Operating the jet ski alone without supervision
- Operating a rental jet ski
- Riding an inflatable, towed by a jet ski
As the age limits are different in every case, let’s look at each one more closely.
Age Limit for Passengers on a Jet Ski
“Can a 2-year-old ride a jet ski?” This is a typical question for parents with small children.
It’s important to know that there is no age limit for passengers on a jet ski in most states. This means your kids can be passengers no matter their age, so the answer is yes, a 2-year-old can ride a jet ski by law.
On the other hand, there are some other factors you should consider before you take your little kids for a jet ski trip. The first is the manufacturers’ recommendation for the age limit of passengers on a jet ski. According to the owner’s manuals, the passengers must be able to reach the floor of the footwells securely with both feet. It’s really important as lifting feet can lead to losing balance, which can result in falling into the water.
It’s a well-known fact that kids grow at different rates, so a toddler’s height varies widely. But in most cases, their feet are not long enough to reach the footwells securely.
Moreover, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, children should be at least 18 pounds to be onboard, and they also have to wear a perfectly-fit life jacket.
Another issue could be if your toddler simply gets scared of the ride. Let’s face it; kids at this age are so little and can be shy in many cases, so you can’t be sure your kid will enjoy it.
But even if you assume, you should keep the manufacturers’ recommendations in mind. Although these aren’t restrictions, you might want to consider them for the safety of your child.
It’s also important to learn how to ride your jet ski with passengers properly, especially if they’re children.
Age Limit for Observers on a Jet Ski
If you’re considering tow sports like wakeboarding or want to pull a tube with your jet ski, most states require you to have an observer onboard. Also known as a spotter, he/she is a person who checks and communicates with the wakeboarder or tuber and warns the driver in emergency situations.
Since this is an important task, that’s why in many states there’s a minimum age to ride the jet ski as an observer. Don’t forget to check the local laws before you start to tow!
Speaking of age restrictions in tow sports, the good news is that in many states there aren’t age limits to ride a tube. But make sure to check the stickers on the tube as well, since different inflatables are recommended for riders of different ages.
How Old do you Have to be to Drive a Jet Ski by Yourself?
This is probably the most common question of many wannabe teenage jet ski riders. The answer again depends on the states! The minimum age to drive a jet ski is typically around 12 to 18 years, but beyond this age restriction, there are often additional requirements which have to be met, like onboard parental guidance or obtaining a Boating Safety Card (also known as a jet ski license).
As these requirements are different from state to state, don’t forget to check the local laws to stay safe and legal on the water. Also, keep in mind that the age limits may vary in case of a jet ski rental. Beyond the legal restrictions, the rental companies have their regulations for the age limits in many cases; both for the operators and the passengers as well!
Often, they don’t allow children to drive, and the passengers must also be typically at least 4-5 years old or be above a certain height. These requirements always depend on the rental’s policy; that’s why it’s imperative to check it and the rental’s FAQ before you book.
Also, because you can find some states like Alaska (and many other countries of course) where there’s currently no age limit for jet skiing, this is why you see kids on Youtube riding jet skis from a very young age.
The Legal Age to Ride a Jet Ski by State
The legal age for jet skiing varies from state to state, but we did the research and listed the most popular “jet skiing states” in this post.
How Old do you Have to be to Drive a Jet Ski in Florida?
You can’t drive a jet ski in Florida if you’re under 14 years old, even if you obtain a Florida Boating Safety Card. But keep in mind that you;re not allowed to rent a jet ski if you’re under the age of 18. If you’re a jet ski owner, it’s also illegal to allow another person to operate your jet ski if he/she is under the age of 14. You can find further information about Florida boating laws and regulations here.
What is the Minimum Age to Operate a Jet Ski in California?
The minimum age to drive a jet ski in California is 16 years, and you also have to possess a California Boater Card. But if there’s appropriate supervision on board, you can drive a jet ski even if you’re just 12 to 15 years old. For further details please visit the Boat-Ed official website.
How Old do you Have to be to Drive a Jet Ski in New York?
You must be at least 14 years old to operate a jet ski in New York, but you’ll also have to pass the boating safety course and have to be accompanied by an appropriate supervisor defined by law. You can find additional information here.
What is the Minimum Age Requirement to Drive a Jet Ski in Texas?
You’re allowed to ride a jet ski alone in Texas if you’re 13 years old or older and passed the Texas Boating Safety Course. If you’re under 13 you can still drive a jet ski if you are supervised by an adult who meets the legal requirements.
How Old do You Have to be to Drive a Jet Ski in Virginia?
In Virginia, it’s prohibited to operate a jet ski under the age of 14. If you’re 14 or older, you can operate a jet ski in Virginia legally if you take the state’s boating safety course.
If you’re looking for the age limits in other states, you can start your research here.
The Age Limit for Jet Skis by Manufacturer
Just as in the case of passengers, manufacturers make recommendations for the minimum age for jet ski drivers, which is typically 16 years. They also advise adults to supervise their children while they operate the jet ski.
Additionally, they also don’t recommend driving the jet ski with a disability that impairs reaction time, vision, judgment or operation of the controls.
Again, this minimum age of 16 years is just a recommendation from manufacturers, however this is for good reason. They know what today’s powerful jet skis are capable of, and how dangerous it can be if the driver is inexperienced or irresponsible!
Because of this, even if your state allows your child to drive your jet ski under the age of 16, always consider the manufacturers’ recommendations.
You may be wondering why the age limit of jet skiing is so regulated. It’s because jet skis could be dangerous, especially if the operator is irresponsible and inexperienced.
In many cases, parents don’t want to disappoint their kids and let them drive, even if they’re not old enough, but they’re wrong, as this can lead to several problems or even accidents!
Jet skis are not toys and safety is paramount on the water!
“Is there an age limit to ride a jet ski?” – This is a typical question from parents (and teenage jet ski enthusiasts as well).
As you can see, in most states the typical age limit to ride a jet ski is 12 to 18 years, however, it may vary from state to state. What’s more, beyond the minimum age, the law also may require obtaining a Boating Safety Course and providing onboard parental supervision.
That’s why it’s important to check the local laws before you hit the water, or let your children ride a jet ski. Beyond age limits by the laws, jet ski manufacturers also make recommendations for the minimum age of the operator, which is typically 16 years.
Surprisingly, there is no age limit for passengers on a jet ski, however, the manufacturers have recommendations for the minimum height of the passengers for safety reasons. If you’re considering renting a jet ski, keep in mind that many states have different regulations for jet ski rentals. Additionally, the rental companies have their own policies for the minimum age of the jet ski operators and passengers (or even mandatory height requirements for the safe sitting position).
Beyond the age limits, it’s also wise to pay attention to the obligatory safety equipment like the life jacket or the safety lanyard. If you’re looking for more protection, you should consider some jet ski clothes or even a helmet.
Can kids ride jet skis? – Now you probably know the answer. Let your kids ride the jet ski in keeping with the law, the manufacturer’s recommendations, and the common sense.
If they’re too young, let’s recommend some jet ski video games until they’re old enough!
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