US Coast Guard seeks comment on turning off engines

Safety concerns about prop injuries could require boaters to stop engines when people are in the water.
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The US 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 proximity to the rear of the vessel, as well as other ideas to reduce casualties caused by propeller strikes or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Critics of the suggestion say boating is already highly regulated and fatalities by propeller injury or CO poisoning are extremely rare.

One commentator, Roger Bloom, writing in the Newport Independent, cites 2010 recreational boating statistics which show that total boating fatalities were at an all-time low of only 672 while boating participation was at a record high of 32.4% of the population, or 75 million people.

'The proposed rule would require all boaters to shut down their boats’ engines if someone is in the water and near the back of the vessel, to prevent propeller strikes and CO poisoning. So I will be required to shut down the main engines and my generator if anyone is swimming off the swim step. How stupid, as this action would make me lose control of the vessel and all AC power onboard. Really? Shut down my power, electronics, HVAC, lights, steering, and other equipment?

'Furthermore, this action would be strictly against man-overboard procedures, and I would have to leave the helm to shut down the genset. Water skiers, get ready to shut down every time someone jumps in or is picked up – and how many dead batteries will this cause? Oh, lifeguards on rescue boats need to prepare to shut down your engines while in the surf line when you are picking up distressed swimmers.'

Describing the recommendation as a 'knee jerk reaction', Bloom goes on to encourage boaters to make their voices heard via the NMMA. You can have you say by contacting Cindy Squires at csquires@nmma.org