South Carolina Aiming to Put the Hammer Down on PWC Riders

We discovered an alarming piece of news on Mount Pleasant’s Count on News 2 website. There seems to be an attack on the jet ski community by South Carolina lawmakers who are in the process of discussing Bill 497, presented by Senator Chip Campsen. The bill would make it a requirement to obtain a safety certificate before being able to operate a jet ski in the state.

This is bad news for jet ski rental operators because it would be a direct threat to their livelihoods. The bulk of their business is based on PWC rentals and something like this could crush them. Also, it isn’t realistic to think that people are going to sit in a class for hours just to rent a jet ski for an hour. They will find something else to do.

Tidal Wave Water Sports Rental owner, Michael Fiem feels like the bill unfairly targets jet skis and not the complete boating community. Furthermore, 2019 statistics point to boats having more accidents than PWC. The numbers show that of the 613 boating related fatalities, only 46 involved jet skis in South Carolina. One would think that with those kinds of numbers, that the legislative body would come up with a bill that includes the complete boating community, not just a segment.

Boat owners and business agree that additional boating safety is needed in South Carolina. That need is for all types of boats and Senate Bill 497 needs some work and the tour industry wants to help: “A lot of boating captains and people in the tour industry, we’re on the water more than anybody,” says Fiem. “We’re the experts, ask the experts. Let us help.”

Senator Campsen’s bill is currently in a state House Judiciary Committee to be discussed further by state leaders. We will update you as more information becomes available.

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Ocean Priselac

An avid mountain and bodyboarder who lives by "if you don't go, you'll never know," with an affinity for wildlife and animal rescue; surf forecasting is a huge part of Ocean's life and was a winner in Red Bull's Project Swell several years ago. The 2014 LB2CAT was her first jet ski competition and can't wait to do it again!

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  1. Chris Luhrs 28 May, 2021 at 11:18 Reply

    How about having a valid driver’s license instead? Or is that already in effect in SC (and other states)? Kids that don’t have basic intuitive driving skills are by far more a safety problem than anything else in endangering themselves as well as others. That would be a great start for safety on PWC’s.

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