The 2022 Kawasaki Ultra 310 Jet Ski range will be available with daytime running lights – similar to those on modern cars – when it goes on sale next year.
However, Australian authorities are divided on the legalities of the industry-first technology.
With that in mind we contacted maritime authorities in each Australian state to clarify the rules regarding daytime running lights on Jet Skis or personal watercraft which, until the 2022 Kawasaki Ultra 310 was unveiled this week, hadn’t been seen before.
Most Australian authorities we contacted said the clear forward-facing LED lights on the 2022 Kawasaki Ultra 310 would be allowed during the day, though a couple of jurisdictions gave ambiguous responses.
An added complication: in the few Australian states that allow Jet Skis and personal watercraft to be used at night, the clear forward-facing lights must be switched off or not visible to other vessels during night rides.
It is not yet known if Kawasaki will give riders the choice to switch the lights on or off at the press of a button or via the new infotainment screen.
Australian specifications for the 2022 Kawasaki Ultra 310 range are yet to be locked in.
Based on information released by Kawasaki USA this week, the “accent lights” (as Kawasaki describes them) are available as standard or an option, depending on the model grade.
A disclaimer from Kawasaki USA says: “This vehicle is not designed for use at night. The front accent lights are a design feature and are not intended as headlamps. Equipment illustrated and specifications may vary to meet individual markets.”
For example, in Japan the 2022 Kawasaki Ultra 310 will be available with blue forward facing daytime running lights. In the US, it appears the lights will be clear.
Daytime running lights became mandatory as a safety feature on new cars so they could be more visible from a greater distance – and easily show the vehicle’s direction of travel.
At Watercraft Zone, we’re hoping common sense prevails – and that daytime running lights are permitted on Australian-delivered Jet Skis and personal watercraft as an added safety measure.
However, the lights will need an off switch to accomodate the few jurisdictions in Australia that allow Jet Skis to be operated at night.
Riders who operate Jet Skis at night – in jurisdictions where that is allowed – are required to fit the same navigation lights used by recreational boats.
Here is the information provided by each Australian state after Watercraft Zone asked about the legality of daytime running lights on the 2022 Kawasaki Ultra 310.
Queensland rules on daytime running lights for Jet Skis:
“Personal watercraft (PWCs) could operate with the lights during the day. Note the disclaimer from (Kawasaki) the PWC is not designed for use at night and the lights are a design feature and not intended as headlamps,” a representative for the Queensland marine safety authority advised Watercraft Zone in an email.
However, Queensland marine Safety authorities added: “Use of the lights at night would be prohibited under Collision Regulations (because they could) impair the visibility and distinctive character of the required (boating) navigational lights.”
All registered boating vessels – including Jet Skis and personal watercraft – “can only operate at night if fitted with the required navigational lights,” Queensland authorities noted.
“The rules concerning lights shall be complied with from sunset to sunrise, and during such times no other lights shall be exhibited, except such lights as cannot be mistaken for the lights specified in these rules or do not impair their visibility or distinctive character, or interfere with the keeping of a proper look-out,” according to current Queensland boating regulations.
NSW rules on daytime running lights for Jet Skis:
Maritime authorities in NSW advised Watercraft Zone that Jet Skis and personal watercraft “are not permitted to operate after sunset or before sunrise on NSW navigable waterways, even if the vessel is fitted with lights.”
However, NSW authorities said Jet Skis and personal watercraft “riding with lights on in daylight is permitted.”
Above: The 2022 Kawasaki Ultra 310 range is available with or without daytime running lights, depending on the regulations in each country.
Victoria rules on daytime running lights for Jet Skis:
Maritime authorities in Victoria advised Watercraft Zone “there would be no issue with the use of these lights during the day.”
While Jet Skis and personal watercraft are allowed to be used at night in Victoria, “like every other vessel, they must display appropriate navigation lights to indicate the type of vessel and direction of travel.”
Further, Victorian authorities advised: “Use of the Kawasaki (Jet Ski) at night would require the clear white lights to be disabled, and side lights and an all-round white light to be installed with compliant angles and range of visibility.”
Tasmania rules on daytime running lights for Jet Skis:
Maritime authorities in Tasmania advised Watercraft Zone that Jet Skis and personal watercraft are not allowed to be operated at night – but the clear forward-facing daytime running lights would be permitted during the day on Jet Skis and personal watercraft in Tasmanian waters.
South Australia rules on daytime running lights for Jet Skis:
The response from maritime authorities in South Australia was ambiguous and Watercraft Zone has sought further clarification.
When Watercraft Zone asked about the legality of forward-facing daytime running lights on a Jet Ski or personal watercraft, authorities in South Australia pointed to legislation that refers to use of spotlights, rather than a specific reference to daytime running lights.
“A person must not, without reasonable excuse, direct a beam of light from a vessel on to another vessel. A person who operates a vessel in the vicinity of any person in or near the water or on a vessel in a manner that is likely to cause nuisance or annoyance to the other person is guilty of an offence.”
The fine for this offence in South Australia is a minimum of $1250. However, we suspect this rule applies to high-powered spotlights rather than daytime running lights designed to improve safety. We will update this story once we receive clarification.
Jet Skis and personal watercraft are not permitted to be used at night in South Australia.
“Personal watercraft only to be used during certain hours,” says South Australia legislation. “A person must not operate a personal watercraft (a) after sunset or 8 pm (whichever is the earlier) on any day; or (b) before 9 am on a Sunday or before 8 am on any other day. Maximum penalty: $1250.”
West Australia rules on daytime running lights for Jet Skis:
Maritime authorities in West Australia advised Watercraft Zone that Jet Skis and personal watercraft “are allowed on West Australian waterways after dark with the appropriate navigational lights.”
However, West Australian authorities noted: “Forward facing clear white lights (such as those available on the 2022 Kawasaki Ultra 310 range) do not meet the requirements for use after dark and should not be used.”
But for now it seems West Australian authorities are hedging their bets on the use of daytime running lights for safety during the day.
“The (West Australia) Department of Transport does not recommend having lights on during the day as it could confuse other vessel operators.”
However, West Australian authorities do not explicitly say daytime running lights on a Jet Ski are illegal. We will update this story as more information becomes available.
The Boating Industry Association of Australia told Watercraft Zone it is supportive of the rollout of Jet Skis and personal watercraft with daytime running light technology.
The peak industry body for boating in Australia says daytime running lights could help improve on-water safety.
Daytime running lights – similar to those on cars – enable other vessel operators to more easily identify Jet Skis and personal watercraft from long distances, and determine their direction of travel and speed.
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