10 July, 2012
Jet boat driver licences add to safety
A new driver licence for commercial jet boat drivers operating on rivers adds a further level of safety assurance for one of New Zealand’s iconic outdoor adventure activities, Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges said today.
The new licence, as well as on-going competency checks for all drivers, is part of the Maritime Rule Part 82: Commercial Jet Boat Operations – River.
“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 says.
“The industry – with 42 operators carrying over 370,000 passengers a year – as a whole manages risk extremely well, with safety of passengers a paramount consideration.
“The overwhelming level of support for this new rule from operators is an indication of how seriously the wellbeing of passengers is taken.”
The rule comes into effect on 2 August 2012 and requires all commercial jet boat drivers working on rivers to have a driver licence, with operators required to establish programmes of regular driver competency checks.
Questions & Answers
Why are you introducing the licence and competency checks now? Are accidents/deaths increasing?
The jet boating sector is a model for good practice in the adventure tourism industry when it comes to risk management. These rule changes, including the jet boat driver licence and competency checks, essentially formalise the sound practices that are already in place in the industry. Given the profile of tourism, and its importance to New Zealand’s economy, there is an expectation that safety is a top priority for operators.
Since 1999, there have been two fatalities in the commercial jet boating sector.
The jet boat driver licence provides an assurance for passengers, the public,
Government, industry, operators, and drivers, that the inherent risk of commercial jet boating is being managed appropriately.
Why don’t drivers have to have licences now?
Existing commercial drivers are required to have at least 50 hours experience before taking commercial passengers. The rule changes introduce competency checks, to be run by operators, and also make drivers subject to the requirement under the Maritime Transport Act 1994 that they be “fit and proper persons”.
What do existing drivers have to do under the Rule?
All current drivers may apply under special transitional provisions. Transitional licences will be issued subject to a safe driving record and drivers being “fit and proper persons” as defined by the Maritime Transport Act 1994.
The rule change recognises the prior experience of existing drivers. While they won’t be required to sit a driving test, they will be subject to on-going competency tests.
What does the driving test entail?
The driving test will be a practical test, assessed in each case by a suitably qualified individual approved by MNZ.
What else does the Rule provide for?
The rule also makes driver log books mandatory, and includes design and construction changes, such as emergency exits and footrests, that provide greater passenger protection.