By Maureen Daniels – July 2021
The Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) would like boaters to know that there are new engine cutoff device wear requirements for recreational boat operators as part of the January 1, 2021 passage of National Defense Authorization Act that included a U.S. Coast Guard Reauthorization. These devices, commonly referred to as engine cutoff switches (ECOS), are designed to prevent a boat-strike injury if an operator is accidentally ejected overboard while underway.
The new law applies to all federally navigable waterways (those waters that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide and/or are presently used, or have been used in the past, or may be susceptible for use to transport interstate or foreign commerce) and will be enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard.
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.
Effective April 1, 2021, the new law requires a vessel operator to use either a helm or outboard lanyard or wireless ECOS on certain vessels less than 26 feet when traveling on plane or above displacement speed. These vessels include (1) boats that have a functioning engine cutoff device installed at the helm or on an outboard engine or have wireless ECOS, or (2) boats manufactured beginning January 2020.
Boaters are encouraged to check the U.S. Coast Guard website at https://uscgboating.org/recreational-boaters/engine-cut-off-switch-faq.php for additional information on this new use requirement and other safety regulations and recommendations.
ALWAYS WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKET. IT WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE.