Water safety campaign offers virtual jet ski test drive
8/10/2008 2:33 AM
By: Texas Parks and Wildlife

The simulator is used to educate people about boating safety. It may not be in the water, but kids are lining up for this ride.
To help make waters safer, Texas Parks and Wildlife hit the expos and boat shows with a virtual reality game to teach kids how to play it safe on the water.
"We have a variety of people who enjoy using it all the way from the littlest kids who get on there with their families helping them out to the teenager to the young adults," Boating Education Coordinator Brandi Bradford said. "That's our big crowd."
The personal watercraft simulator or jet ski is one of the latest tools used in TPWD's Boating Education Program.
"We teach a lot of different concepts while they're actually on the Jet Ski playing the game," Bradford said. "We talk about wearing your life jacket at all times on a personal watercraft. We talk about taking boater education. We talk about using your safety ignition switch or kill switch to kill the engine. That's also a requirement in Texas. And we really talk about the 50-foot rule and how to follow the rules of the road while you're out there playing safely with other boats."
The simulator is a real jet ski gutted and turned into a video game controller. The department also has help from country music star Kevin Fowler.
"Well Bubba, thanks for coming by and remember 'Nobody's Waterproof,'" Fowler said to a fan while signing autographs. "Be careful, all the freaks are out there on the water."
Fowler is the "Wild Man" and spokesperson for the "Nobody's Waterproof, Play It Safe" campaign.
"Kevin does fit in great with the crowd," Bradford said. "That campaign is aimed at 18 to 34-year-olds; the kind of party crowd."

To help make waters safer, Texas Parks and Wildlife uses a personal watercraft simulator to teach kids how to play it safe on the water.

That is the same crowd that the personal watercraft simulator is directed towards.
The personal watercraft simulator is created from a real jet ski confiscated by game wardens from a previous accident.

"We gutted the engine out of it, put a game controller inside and now it's just a fun game," Bradford said. "We carry it around on a little trailer and can take it to boat shows, to outreach events, to expos; to any number of events to promote boating safety."