Restoring civility on our waterways

Irresponsible use of jetskis in places like Raha Beach aggravate those living nearby. Christopher Pike / The National
Irresponsible use of jetskis in places like Raha Beach aggravate those living nearby. Christopher Pike / The National

Badly behaved jet-skiers are a perennial cause of ire for many living in our coastal cities. With no shortage of reports of users riding dangerously close to swimmers and deliberately splashing onlookers, it poses the question of why getting on board one of these craft seems to cause an instant diminution of civility.

It ought to be remembered that the problem lies with an irresponsible minority, even if their behaviour makes them seem to be more numerous than they actually are. They tarnish the reputation of the majority who use these craft in a way that doesn’t prevent others from also enjoying our waterways.

This is more than simply a matter of enforcement, although that is an important part of any solution. It is about understanding that living as part of a community means ensuring your own actions do not adversely affect others.

A recurring theme in the complaints about jet-skiers is that the worst offenders tend to be young men. This is hardly a problem restricted to jet skis because this demographic is also over-represented in irresponsible driving. That correlation would suggest that some of the innovations designed to help solve the driving problem might also work on recalcitrant jet-skiers.

One such innovation is to channel this natural youthful enthusiasm into less destructive venues. Reckless drivers have been urged to vent their need for speed on racetracks, where there are robust safety provisions. A similar option might work for some of these jet-skiers, if there is an isolated venue where they can perform the manoeuvres that aggravate some people.

Like with irresponsible drivers, the reality is that some of the jetskiers behave as they do because their actions are forbidden, not despite it. And like with drivers who enjoy the thrill of breaking the law, this subgroup deserves no sympathy. Strong and consistent enforcement is needed to make them change their behaviour and restore civility to our waterways.

Published: September 29, 2016 04:00 AM

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