In an attempt to prevent accidents, Oregon’s Marine Board is increasing the minimum age for teens to rent or ride solo on water scooters.
Effective immediately, the new minimum age to ride alone is 16 and to rent the scooters is 18. In the past, solo drivers were legal at 14 and the minimum age for renting was 16.
The scooters, including the popular Jet Skis, are the only bright sales spot for Oregon’s boating industry. But they have a downside: a much higher rate of accidents. In 24 boating accidents involving younger skippers or drivers, 20 involved water scooters, according to Paul Donheffner, director of the Oregon State Marine Board.
In a 4-0 vote Thursday, the board adopted new rules, ending a debate that started in October. Donheffner said the tougher rules are consistent with the position of a national association of watercraft manufacturers.
Operating such craft “is parallel to driving a car,” said Nancy J. Hungerford, a board member. “We are doing this in an effort to reduce accidents.”