boat engine cut off

Thanks to Mlive for this:

Michigan residents boating on the Great Lakes or adjoining federally monitored waterways will have a new safety law to follow starting April 01, 2021.

It’s a federal engine cut-off switch requirement that will only impact boaters traversing U.S. Coast Guard-monitored waterways, no inland rivers or lakes, said Thomas R. Wanless, a education and safety director with the state Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR won’t be enforcing the rule, yet.

“State and local officers do not have the authority to enforce the federal law at this time,” he said. “If the state Legislature passed a parallel law, then state and local officers could enforce that state law.”

The new federal law mandates that every operator of a leisure boat under 26 feet in length with a 3-horsepower engine or greater that was manufactured on or after Jan. 1 2020 must have an equipped engine cut-off switch.

And drivers of any boat with a cut-off switch — even if it was manufactured prior to 2020 — must wear the accompanying “link” that kills the engine when disengaged.

The rule doesn’t apply if a boat is anchored, trolling or passing slowly through a no-wake zone.

Engine cut-off switches work like a ripcord and help ensure that if a boat operator goes overboard or otherwise loses control, the motor stops.

Without emergency cut-off switches, “the boat continues to operate with no one in control of the vessel, leaving the operator stranded in the water as the boat continues on course, or the boat begins to circle the person in the water eventually striking them, often with the propeller,” the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement reminding boaters of the new requirements. “These dangerous runaway vessel situations put the ejected operator, other users of the waterway, marine law enforcement officers, and other first responders in serious danger.”

Cut-off links work similar to keys that are easily removed and attached to the driver at all times, “usually a lanyard-style cord that attaches to an (cut-off switch) either in close proximity to the helm or on the outboard motor itself if the vessel is operated by a tiller,” the Coast Guard said. “When enough tension is applied, the (link) disengages from the (cut-off switch) and the motor is automatically shut down.”

There are also wireless versions.

Violation of the new rule may result in fines between $100 and $500.

There are several exceptions to the requirement:

  • The boat was manufactured prior to 2020 and doesn’t have a cut-off switch
  • The boat’s helm is within an enclosed cabin
  • The boat length is over 26 feet
  • The boat engine’s has fewer than 3 horsepower and generates fewer 115 pounds of “static thrust”
  • It’s not a recreational boat. Government and commercial boats are exempt.
  • The boat was manufactured prior to 2020 and the engine cut-off switch is inoperable


USCG Engine Cutoff FAQ


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