Boom in new boats: safety break becomes mandatory in the U.S.


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safety detachment

With April 1, 2021 in the United States of America, safety break y becomes mandatory, albeit for a specific range of boats. This was announced by the country’s Coast Guard after the law was passed by Congress. Applies to those sailing recreational boats less than 26 feet, with an engine capable of 115 pounds of static thrust, at 3hp or more.

The use of the safety break will only be required when the main rudder is not inside an enclosed cabin, and when the boat is sailing “on plane or above displacement speed,” the Coast Guard specifies.

Mandatory safety break in the U.S.

An essential premise: what is safety break? The latest generation of motor boats are usually equipped with an “automatic” engine shut-off switch. This switch is connected via a red coiled lanyard or with an electronic device to the person steering the boat. Result? If the person at the helm is finished out of the boat, the engine will immediately stop, allowing those who were steering to regain control of the boat.

At sea, and particularly in boats, safety comes first. And with the boom in recreational boaters that there was in 2020 (and is continuing in 2021), traffic in U.S. waters of “recreational boats,” pleasure boats, is set to rise exponentially. It was probably this, combined with several incidents of accidents, that caused this law to be passed.

For whom the safety detachment is mandatory

In the United States, anyone aboard recreational boats less than about 8 meters (26 feet) in length and generating more than 115 pounds of static thrust (about 2-3hp) are required to wear it. This argument then applies only to those who have a boat built on or after January 2020, in which case it becomes mandatory to have it, even if not present at the time of purchase. In short, a rule that mainly affects new boaters aboard small boats.

For example, it is not mandatory for those who have a boat built in 2019 even if it is 8 meters and has more than 2-3 horsepower. Then, if the boat’s main rudder is inside an enclosed cabin, it is not necessary to have an engine stop switch. Likewise, it is not mandatory to wear it when mooring, trolling, etc.

For those who are curious at this U.S. Coast Guard page there is all the information about who is required to have it. Click here

Why the security gap is important, even in Italy

Engine shutdown switches are an important tool to prevent unnecessary accidents, injuries and deaths caused by those in charge of a recreational boat who are unexpectedly thrown overboard. This is because not only do those who end up outboard risk being hit by the propeller, but also because the boat without control becomes a danger to those on board and around. Not the least of which is the risk to the Coast Guard men (regardless of nation) called upon to regain control of the vehicle.

The advice is, therefore, to always wear it wherever you are. Looking ahead to the summer where a great many new boaters will be coming to the sea for the first time, safety will become even more important.

What do you think? Should it be mandatory here in Italy as well? Write us your opinion below or at



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