Comments sought on engine shutdown rule

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The Coast Guard is seeking public comment on a National Boating Safety Advisory Council recommendation that would require recreational vessel operators to turn off their engine if a swimmer is in the water in close proximity to the rear of the vessel, as well as other ideas to reduce casualties caused by propeller strikes or carbon monoxide poisoning.

The NMMA is working on its comments and welcomes input on this issue.

To provide feedback or join the NMMA task force on the matter, contact Cindy Squires at 202-737-9766 or

Click here for more on this proposal.

The Coast Guard is also seeking public comment on a separate safety council recommendation about potential ways to improve the recreational boating accident reporting process. The council has recommended that the Coast Guard use a two-tiered reporting system for boating accidents and take steps to clarify what, how and when information is reported. Comments must be submitted by Dec. 5.


16 comments on “Comments sought on engine shutdown rule

  1. Frank Strobl

    Any boater who does not shut down his motor when there is a swimmer close by, should not be operating a boat. it is not only common courtesy, but should be a requirement to shut your motor down when there are swimmers nearby. We reside in Dunnellon, Florida, home of the Rainbow River. The Rainbow River sees approximately 400,000 tubers, snorkelers and swimmers annually. Swimmers, tubers, non-powered vessels have the right of way on any navivagable waterway. Whenever we have tubers, divers, and swimmers in the water, we shut down our motor until they have passed.
    Not doing so just invites an accident to happen.

  2. enginecom

    More nanny state regulations? Just what we need. If someone is dumb enough to run over a swimmer they deserve to be prosecuted. To force operators to shut down engines just because there is a swimmer close makes maneuvering a bit difficult. What about jet skis? Does this include generators? How close is close?

  3. William J Hill

    I fully support the proposal for an engine shut down rule. It is sad to think we have to impose a rule/law to make people use common sence. All my life I have always shut down the engine, no matter what drive system if someone was in close proximity to the boat. With the resent court rulings, an engine shut down rule is much prefered over prop guards. This rule would be much more effective in preventing injuries than prop guards.

  4. Jody

    So… Our society has lost all common sense, and we’re having to make rules for people too stupid to realize you shouldn’t have your engine running with people in the water.

    if some people don’t have the common sense it takes to be safe, what makes anyone think they’ll follow any rule or law that should come about? They are probably the same people who complain about having to carry vests, flares and fire extinguishers on board. You can’t legislate STUPIDITY.

  5. Fred Blanton

    Many new boat owners do not know about prop creep while in idle. This rule is much needed if only to educate new boat owners to this danger. Fred Blanton

  6. anthony cavallo

    First I think that the Sales person that sell that hot rod boat to a person that never ran a boat, or a P/W/C, Have the person that is selling explain the rules, then have the Buyer go to the U/S/C/G, and take a course in seamanship, After the person passes the course then he can take possision,

    I Think All Boater, should think of ways to not run People over with there Boats, And have a ( Kill Switch System Installed on there Engines.
    Every Boat engine made today has them,

    Have Check Points at the lakes So they can’t take the boat on the lake unless they have a kill System on the Engine.

    Thank You Anthony

  7. Gordon Schwarzer

    There are many situations with a man overboard, shutting down the engine(s) isn’t advisable, in sea conditions or a high traffic waterway.
    The responsibility rests with the Captain in charge. Why micromanage?
    EDUCATE !!

  8. WilliamB

    A completely bad proposal by the Coast Guard requiring shut down of all engines. Last year the boating fatalities were at an all time low. Show me the stats to prove this will make any difference. Someone had better tell the lifeguard boat operators in the surf line to shut down. So, let’s review how this can be done on my yacht. I have to shut down the mains, then leave the helm to shut down the gensets. Thus, shutting down my AC power and the AC controls for my boat. Then I have to shut down my electronics to fire everything up again. Additionally, in some harbors, rivers, and lakes it would be dangerous to not have immediate control of your vessel. What about boats with dry exhaust stack and waterjets? More rules for the USCG to justify thier existense in the Fed budget.

  9. Captain Bob Armstrong

    I hesitate to write this because it sems as though I’m again climbing onto the soapbox I’ve been “preaching” from for about the past 40 years. But I think this is just another example of the basic truth that no one is born knowing how to operate a powerboat. Proper education is essential! I agree with Frank’s opening statement. But then I have to ask, if the boater hadn’t been taught this, how is s/he supposed to know? In recent years, the powerboat industruy as a whole has made great strides in coming to accept education as a part of the process of introducing new people to our sport. But we still have too many who believe we should forego anything that might be an impediment to sales, even teaching newcomers how to do it correctly. One of the unfortunate results is people on the water who don’t know how to do it correctly, which all too often results in the request for more regulations whenver they mess up. But the regulations won’t do a bit of good if people don’t know them and it is just as easy to teach newcomers that shutting down engines is just basic good practice as it is to teach them that it is the law. In either case, if the people aren’t taught, they will be just as “dumb.” We don’t need more regulation; we DO need more and better education and an industry attitude that supports it. Knowing how to operate a powerboat properly makes doing it more fun. Better educated boaters enjoy the sport more and stay with it longer. But then, it seems I’ve said this before.

  10. Dave Arch

    I totally agree with Gordon in item 7
    “There are many situations with a man overboard, shutting down the engine(s) isn’t advisable, in sea conditions or a high traffic waterway.
    The responsibility rests with the Captain in charge. Why micromanage?”

  11. Taichleach

    The Coast Guard is not the originator of the proposed rule. This is one of the recommendations forwarded to them from the National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) and now the Coast Guard must open this to public comment. From the Federal Register /Vol. 76, No. 172 /Tuesday, September 6, 2011. See:

    You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG–2011–0674 using any one of the following methods:

    (1) Federal eRulemaking Portal:

    (2) Fax: 202–493–2251.

    (3) Mail: Docket Management Facility (M–30), U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590–0001.

    (4) Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone number is 202–366–9329.

    To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods.

  12. marine biz sites

    The last thing boating needs is another law that we can all get along fine without. An accident is going to happen whether the law is on the books or not. Education is a better approach.

  13. Capt'n Bald Bob

    If you have an idea let them know. This is only asking for ideas and information to prevent injuries. Hey, some auto manufactures stated that Air Bags in cars were impossible and how many lifes have those saved? Yes, education is a very important point but accidents still happen. Please, let’s not let a lack of imagination be the rule of the day.

  14. old boat guy

    Passing a new law has nothing to do with the common sense required at the scene. It’s all about litigation and law suits after somebody gets hurt. Why don’t we have a law to shut off all fans when there are people present? Someone could stick a plastic fork in a fan, and be blinded for life!!

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