Expect scrutiny of Jet Ski rental operations

Expect scrutiny of Jet Ski rental operations

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are more than a dozen companies in the state that rent jet skis and waverunners and operate on water courses at places like Keehi Lagoon.

"Everybody has to wear a life vest. There are buoys where they have a designated area where you can go," jet ski rental operator Eric Schaefer said. But the accident that killed 16-year-old Kristen Fonseca of Vacaville, CA, last month will trigger calls for more oversight. "There should be a speed limit," said Rep. Tom Brower. "Forty miles an hour is very fast. You can creep up on someone else very quickly."

"We already have so many laws right now. Many of the laws we have are unenforceable," Sen. Sam Slom said.

A state statute limits commercial jet skis to no more than two passengers per craft. Riders must be at least fifteen years old. Courses are rwtricted to a 200-foot radius. And no more than six jet skis can be on the course at one time.

Schaefer suggests tweaking the existing regulations.

"What if they say, 'We want to increase the size of your course so that there won't be too many people going next to each other?'" he said.

Brower said a bill that failed last session called for riders to have permits. It may go one step further next year.

"Should we require that if you rent a motor craft on the water, should  it also require a drivers license?  Should you have that much more experience?" he said. Slom thinks increased regulation could hinder jet ski rental companies from doing business.

"Small businesses in Hawaii are already over-taxed and over-regulated," he said.

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