Are you boating legally?

Emergency Boat Kill Switch

New Law Effective as of April 1, 2021, Requires Use of Engine Cut-off Device!! There is a new “engine cutoff device” requirement for all recreational boat operators as part of the National Defense Authorization Act that included a U.S. Coast Guard Reauthorization. Effective April 1, 2021, the new law requires all vessel operators to use either a helm or outboard lanyard or wireless ECOS on certain vessels less than 26 ft when traveling on plane or above displacement speed. Engine cutoff devices can be located at the helm of the boat or on the tiller or body of an outboard engine and typically connect a boat’s operator to the cutoff switch with a lanyard.

Some ECOS devices eliminate the lanyard and rely on wireless proximity devices to shut down an engine if the operator goes overboard. These vessels include boats that have a functioning engine cutoff device installed at the helm or on an outboard engine or have wireless ECOS, or boats manufactured beginning January 2020. The Coast Guard increased the number of boats required to have ECOS installed after this date in an effort to reduce boating accidents and fatalities. The new law applies to all federally navigable waterways. As this is a federal law, many states do not have the ability to enforce the new ECOS regulation — though several states, including Alabama and Louisiana, currently have their own ECOS laws and ARE enforcing them. While boat operators who fail to follow the new requirement could face about a $100 fine for the first offense, we expect the initial focus will be education. Boaters are encouraged to check their local Marine Resources office or U.S. Coast Guard website for additional information on this new use requirement and other safety regulations and recommendations. We support and encourage the responsible use of recreational vessels and proper use of safety devices, like engine cutoff switches, and we want to help to get the word out to boaters to be aware of this new requirement so they can prepare.