New licence for jet boat drivers
Tue, 10 Jul 2012 10:18a.m.
Jet boat drivers will need to hold a new driving licence, as part of an overhaul of adventure tourism safety.
Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges says commercial jet boat drivers operating on rivers will need to have the licence by August 2, under a new maritime rule.
Operators will also be required to establish regular driver competency checks.
"While the inherent risks of jet boating provide the 'thrill' factor that attracts passengers from all over the world, the introduction of the jet boat driver licence and competency checks gives passengers and the public added assurance that these risks are being managed appropriately," Mr Bridges said.
There were 42 operators carrying more than 370,000 passengers each year - and operators overwhelmingly supported the new licence, he said.
Transitional licences will be issued to existing drivers with a safe driving record, who meet the definition of "fit and proper persons" under the Maritime Transport Act.
New drivers will have to sit a practical test, assessed by a qualified person approved by Maritime NZ.
The new rule also makes driver log books mandatory, and includes boat design and construction changes, such as emergency exits and footrests, that provide greater passenger protection.
There have been only two fatalities in the commercial jet boating sector since 1999, and the sector was a model of good risk-management in the adventure tourism industry, Mr Bridges said.
The Department of Labour last year introduced new regulations for the adventure tourism industry, requiring sectors like river rafting, abseiling and skydiving to notify the department of their activity.
Over the next three years operators must undergo a safety audit and be registered - unless the department asks them to do it earlier.
The changes were triggered by the April 2008 death of English tourist Emily Jordan, who drowned in the Kawarau River after becoming trapped by a rock during a Mad Dog River Boarding trip.
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