Effective today, April 1, 2021, the United States Coast Guard (“USCG”) requires operators of recreational vessels less than 26 feet in length to use an engine cut off switch (ECOS) and associated ECOS link (ECOSL) when operating in federal waters. The purpose of the new regulation is to prevent runaway vessels and the danger they pose. An ECOSL attaches the vessel operator to a switch that shuts off the engine if the operator is displaced from control of the vessel, such as when they may fall or be thrown overboard.
Since 2018, the USCG has required all manufacturers of covered recreational boats to equip the vessels with an ECOS. Most vessels are equipped with an ECOS Link. The new provision requires individuals operating recreational vessels with an ECOS Link to use them. Exceptions would include when the boat is idling or docking.
Florida lawmakers have proposed a mirror bill, Ethan’s Law, which would make it a requirement to use an ECOS Link in all public waterways and state waters. If passed, the bill could take effect as early as July 2021. Seven other states currently have similar laws in place.
Additional information may be found here.