Starting April 1, all drivers of open recreational boats under 26 feet LOA must have an engine cut-off switch if they’re running above displacement speeds and an engine cut-off device is installed on the boat.
On that date, the Coast Guard will start implementing a 2018 law requiring the installation of engine cut-off switches in those boats, as well as The National Defense Authorization Act of 2021 that requires the operators of recreational boats under 26 feet to use an engine-cut off link.
Boats made in or since January, 2020, have an engine cut-off boat installed, so owners of those vessels must have a cut-off link, either a lanyard or a fob, when they’re running faster than displacement speeds.
The problem is that some people are killed or injured every year by runaway boats, where the driver either falls or is ejected from the boat. The driverless boat often continues to run in ever-tighter circles, and can run over the driver or passengers who have been thrown into the water.
The new law says “the engine cut-off links must be used when the primary helm is not within an enclosed cabin, and when the boat is operating on plane or above displacement speed.” You don’t have to use the link while docking, trailering the boat or running in no-wake zones.
The law applies to all federal navigable waterways. Seven states – Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey and Texas – already have their own laws mandating the links.
You can read the Coast Guard’s explanation of new requirements here: