Are You Aware Of The New Coast Guard Boating Kill Switch Law?

Are you aware of a new change in federal boating laws that was put into practice this year?

If you are operating a boat, you must pay careful attention to laws and regulations to ensure the safety of you, those on your boat, and fellow boaters out on the water.

Being made aware of the current laws can keep everyone safe and allow boaters to enjoy their water activities.

Read down below to learn the new rule and what procedures you must take when operating a boat that’s under 26 ft long on the water.

The New Coast Guard Boating Law [VIDEO]

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The new requirement for individuals operating boats under 26 ft is that they must have the kill switch attached to them in some capacity.

This is in order to increase the safety of those on the boat as well as other boaters in the water.

It may be attached to your belt loop or anything that is fixed to you.

In the case you are somehow thrown overboard or something happens on the boat, the kill switch will be enabled and the engine will shut off.

This law applies to any navigable body of water whether that be the ocean, a bay, or in lakes.

If the cord is pulled, the engine is stopped, and the situation is now under control.

All you have to do is reinsert the kill switch and put the engine back in neutral to start the boat again.

The boat will not start if it’s not in neutral.

If you have any more questions about operating a boat, please let me know down in the comments!!

➡ Click here to read more on the Federal Law

And if you know someone who operates a boat, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

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Mitchell Landis
2 years ago

Thanks for the information, Luke. Great and useful as always.

Gordon McBride
2 years ago

How would this apply to small older outboards?

2 years ago

I knew a father and son this very kind of accident proved fatal for them both. Neither had on a life vest when the father fell off the rear of the boat. The son in what is presumed a panic went to circle around to help him and they both ended up in the water. Wildlife found the boat circling the two drowned men. Tragic avoidable accident.

Lyle Crafton
2 years ago

Although not required, hooking it into a life vest is even better. One might not be conscious after hitting the water. I have an inflatable vest hooked to my lanyard. I just slip it on while underway and take it off and hang it on the throttle when fishing. When travelling offshore I clip my PLB to my vest also.

Richard Clauson
2 years ago

Great idea, I fell out of my boat twice, cause I’m old, and boat was tippy..after the 2nd time I sold the boat and bought a wider skiff…haven’t fallen out since but do use all the safety precautions..

Just Me
2 years ago

I believe that you are not required to install a kill switch on a boat made prior to 1/1/2020 if it did not come with one on it. However, if one is currently installed or if one was ever was installed, it must be operational and used anytime the boat is on plane. It applies to boats under 21’, including PWCs. Personally, I would add one to any boat I had that does not have one. Here’s another useful link:

Rob S
2 years ago
Reply to  Just Me

You’re correct, Just Me. Unfortunately, this is presented as absolute when it’s more nuanced and having important exceptions that should have been disclosed to viewers. The manufacturer of my 2021 boat was required to install a traditional kill switch but I also had a FELL MOB system installed which negates the need for me to attach the traditional kill switch so long as I’m wearing my FOB.

The comment about how no one gets hurt if the navigator wearing the kill switch goes overboard is a missed opportunity to educate boaters about how to restart the engines. The navigator may drown if laying unconscious in the water (depending on type of PFD being worn). With kill switch attached to the overboard captain, how does an untrained person start the engines in an emergency, especially if the captain can’t communicate? Another point is how to navigate back to a person overboard as many injuries occur from the person in the water being hit by the prop as the untrained operator attempts to pick up the person.

Lyle Crafton
2 years ago
Reply to  Rob S

Great point. When I have guests on board, the first thing I do is a safety brief. I show them all of the safety equipment and first aid kit. I also demonstrate reconnecting the kill switch and how to start and drive the boat. I just ordered an extra lanyard, great idea.

Jim Stellman
2 years ago

I’m assuming this only applies when the boat is in motion ???

Lyle Crafton
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim Stellman


Andy Hong
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim Stellman

When the boat is on plane. If you’re operating at no-wake speed, or maneuvering slowly while docking, or using your trolling motor to hold/change position, you don’t need to attach the kill-switch lanyard to yourself.

Thomas Moran
2 years ago

Definitely a good practice, but I’m struggling with how to implement. I have a Carolina Skiff J16 that originally had tiller steering on the 25 Yamaha, and it has a kill switch + lanyard. However, we later installed a center console, shifting the operator position forward a bit. The motor is a pull start, so there’s no opportunity to install a kill unit at the switch.

I guess I have to extend the lanyard some 4 ft or so to reach me in the driving position, and also allow for standing? This seems very awkward. Anyone else come up with a workable solution?

Ray Markham
2 years ago

Buy a spare kill switch cord and keep it on the boat. If you’re running the boat, get thrown out, and are unconscious, hopefully, you’re wearing a life jacket. If it’s windy the boat may drift too quickly to be able to swim to it, especially if the man overboard is fully clothed. Others on the boat won’t be able to start the motor without reattaching the kill switch cord. A spare cord on the boat will allow someone else to start the motor and retrieve the man overboard.

Curtis Thompson
2 years ago
Reply to  Ray Markham

Hadn’t thought of that. Thanks.

Dave Seaverns
2 years ago
Reply to  Ray Markham

Great idea!

Paul Korschgen
2 years ago
Reply to  Ray Markham

That’s a GREAT tip! Had not considered that. Thanks!

Bob hartwein
2 years ago
Reply to  Ray Markham

Great Idea!!

Geramie Eleazae
2 years ago
Reply to  Ray Markham

Good idea of having a spare lanyard. I had a 1988 Sea Ray 17 ft ski boat. I currently own a 2021 Trophy t22cc 22 ft center console boat. On both boats, if the lanyard is pulled from the toggle switch, all I have to do is flip the toggle switch back up, which allowed me to start both boats.

William Brewer
2 years ago

Like, nice work here. I believe the law is for boats under 26 feet- Maybe mention that in Video, although not a bad habit for any boat.
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