Boaters: New engine cutoff switch law takes effect April 1

Virginia News

The new boat engine cutoff switch law takes effect on April 1, 2021. (Image courtesy of Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources).

(WFXR) — The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is reminding boaters about a new law that takes effect April 1, involving engine cutoff device requirements for recreational boaters.

The law was part of the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act that included a U.S. Coast Guard Reauthorization.

The 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 the boat is in motion.

Engine cutoff devices can be located at the helm of the boat or on the tiller or body of an outboard engine and typically connects a boat’s operator to the cutoff switch with a lanyard.

Some of the ECOS devices can eliminate the lanyard and rely on wireless proximity devices to shut down an engine if the operator falls overboard.

Starting April 1, the new law requires operators to either use 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:

  • Boats having a functioning engine cutoff device installed at the helm or on an outboard engine or have wireless ECOS
  • Boats manufactured beginning in January 2020

For more information, click here.

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