When properly maintained, jet-powered river boats are just as safe as boats using traditional inboard or outboard propeller-based motors. In certain situations, such as boating in shallow water, jet-powered boats are actually somewhat safer than propeller-driven boats.
The jets that provide propulsion to jet-powered river boats are completely different from the gas turbine jet engines used in aircraft and other heavy equipment. A jet-powered boat's motor works by drawing water in through one opening in the craft's hull. A high-speed pump then compresses and expels this water from the thrust nozzle, a different opening in the hull.
Steering a jet boat left and right actually swivels the thrust nozzle, so most jet-powered boats do not require rudders. Because jet-powered boats use their source of propulsion directly in steering, they are typically more nimble and maneuverable than boats that rely on rudders. Many jet-powered boats have the ability to reverse the direction of their thrust, allowing them to go from top speed to a full stop over a much shorter distance than propeller-driven craft.
Jet-powered boats expel their exhaust water at or just above the water line, making them more suitable for shallow water boating. Expelling exhaust water above the water line, as well as the lack of propellers, also makes jet-powered boats less dangerous to aquatic wildlife.