Beware of Michigan boaters: Federal emergency engine shutdown requirement takes effect April 1

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Michigan residents navigating the Great Lakes or adjacent federally monitored waterways will have a new safety law to follow effective April 1.

It’s a federal engine shutdown switch requirement that will only impact boaters crossing US Coast Guard patrolled waterways, no rivers or inland lakes, said Thomas R. Wanless, director of education and security in the state’s natural resources department.

The DNR will not yet apply the rule.

“State and local officials do not have the power to enforce federal law at this time,” he said. “If the state legislature passed a parallel law, state officials and local authorities could enforce that law.”

The new federal law states that every operator of a pleasure craft less than 26 feet in length with an engine of 3 or more horsepower manufactured on or after January 1, 2020 must have an engine cut-off switch fitted. And operators of any boat with a cutoff switch – even if it was made before 2020 – must wear the accompanying “tie” that kills the engine when disengaged.

The rule does not apply if a boat is anchored, trolling or slowly passing through an area without a wake.

Engine cut-off switches work like a rip rope and help ensure that if a boat operator gets overboard or loses control, the engine shuts down.

Without emergency stop switches, “the boat continues to run without anyone controlling the boat, leaving the operator stranded in the water as the boat continues on course, or the boat begins to circle around. the person in the water eventually hitting them. , often with the propeller, ”the US Coast Guard said in a statement reminding boaters of the new requirements. “These dangerous runaway ship situations endanger the ejected driver, other users of the waterway, maritime law enforcement officers and other first responders.”

Cut-off links function the same as keys which can be easily removed and attached to the conductor at any time, “usually a lanyard-type cord that attaches to a (cut-off switch) either near the bar or on the outboard motor itself if the vessel is operated by a tiller, ”the Coast Guard said. “When sufficient voltage is applied, the (link) disengages from (the cut-off switch) and the motor stops automatically.”

There are also wireless versions.

Violating the new rule can result in fines between $ 100 and $ 500.

There are several exceptions to the requirement:

  • The boat was manufactured before 2020 and does not have a cut-off switch
  • The helm of the boat is in a closed cabin
  • The length of the boat is over 26 feet
  • The boat’s engine has less than 3 horsepower and generates less than 115 pounds of “static thrust”
  • It is not a pleasure boat. Government and commercial vessels are exempt.
  • The boat was manufactured before 2020 and the engine cut-off switch is inoperative

For more information, visit the Coast Guard FAQ page.

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