Many NH Boaters Need to Use Kill Switches Starting Next month

The following article by Rick Green is from the Keene Sentinel newspaper.

Keene—July 10, 2024—Starting next month, operators of many powerboats in New Hampshire will be required to use a device that cuts off the motor if they fall overboard.

Gov. Chris Sununu signed House Bill 1045 into law last month. It creates a violation-level offense, similar to a traffic ticket, for those who don’t adhere to the new requirement, which goes into effect Aug. 13.

Retired N.H. Marine Patrol Capt. Tim Dunleavy said in an interview Wednesday that automatic engine cut-off switches are an important safety tool. He said he has seen many instances in which someone fell into the water and the boat kept going.

“It seems like the smaller the boat, the increased chance it could happen,” he said.

“One circumstance that I remember involved a 15-foot Boston Whaler with a 25-horsepower outboard motor and a teenager in it,” he said.

“The teenager was distracted. The wheel slipped from his hand and the boat went into a high-speed, very sharp turn, which ejected him.”

The boat began circling around the young man at a high rate of speed, endangering his life.

“Thankfully, a Marine Patrol officer was able to deploy a floating nylon line that got caught up in the prop and disabled the boat,” Dunleavy said.

He also recalled a runaway boat that came to a stop only when its propeller snagged on the straps of the life jacket of the person thrown overboard.

The new law applies to powerboats that are less than 26-feet long, have an engine of at least three horsepower and are being operated at headway speed or higher across the water.

It does not apply to powerboats that have enclosed cabins or engines that were manufactured prior to 2020 and not equipped with a kill switch.

Dunleavy said that for the past several years, manufacturers have routinely placed engine cut-off switches on powerboats. Typically, there is a flexible cord that runs from the boat operator to the switch. With sufficient pressure on the cord, the switch will stall the engine.

The prime sponsor of HB 1045 is Rep. John MacDonald, R-Wolfeboro Falls. In speaking on behalf of the bill in January before the N.H. House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee, he emphasized the danger of runaway boats.

“In these scenarios, anyone who goes into the water faces potential propeller cuts and strikes,” he said. “The boat can also collide with other vessels, and it also puts our Marine Patrol officers in danger as they have to risk their lives to try to take control of the boat.”

1 comment

  1. tj236 2 weeks ago July 12, 2024

    Thank goodness the government is there to save us from ourselves and provide another opportunity to collect “fine revenue” for the state.
    You can’t fix stupid and you can’t legislate away accidents. At some point the people must be allowed to live without excessive government intervention.


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