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Upstream Fight For Jet Ski Safety Bill

Thu., March 2, 1995

A bill aimed at reducing jet ski accidents on Idaho lakes and streams narrowly cleared a Senate committee Wednesday.

The Resources and Environment Committee approved the measure, sponsored by Sen. Mary Lou Reed, D-Coeur d’Alene, on a 6-5 vote, but only if it is amended to restrict the use of the machines to those 14 and older. The original plan called for a minimum age of 16.

The bill requires that jet skiers travel at no-wake speed - about 5 mph - within 100 feet of a boat or dock. It also prohibits jumping boat wakes, requires life jackets and forbids operating the so-called personal watercraft between sundown and 8 a.m.

Violations would bring a fine of up to $300 or 30 days in jail, or more if alcohol is involved.

Mark Brandt, boating program supervisor for the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, said controlling, banning or fining jet skiers was the single-largest desire of boaters surveyed last summer.

The popular watercraft were involved in 30 accidents last year, causing $34,000 in property damage and injuring 23 people, Brandt said.

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