New law requires kill switches on some boats
Special to the Sierra Sun
Boats will now be required to have kill switches on the lake, according to a new federal bill.
The law, which went into effect on April 1, 2021, requires boat drivers to wear a lanyard that is attached to the engine. If the driver leaves the helm with the lanyard still attached, the boat will automatically turn-off.
U.S. Coast Guard Lake Tahoe Station Chief Nathan Fairchield said he sees two big benefits for this change.
“If the operator falls off the vessel, they won’t get run-over by the vessel,” Fairchild said. “Also, first responders won’t have the added stressors of chasing down the boat and turning it off while also administering first aid.”
While Fairchild did not have the exact numbers of how many incidents last year could have been improved by this law, there were several fatal instances of boats moving away after the driver had fallen in during the 2020 boat season.
The law applies to motorized boats with three or more horsepower that is less than 26 feet in length. Fairchild said the exceptions are for boats where the helm is in a closed cabin or when a boat is in a no-wake zone.
“For the first year, we’ll be focusing on education for first time offenders,” Fairchild said.
After the first year, the law allows for fines up to $100 for a first offense and up to $500 by the third offense.
The law was included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021 passed by Congress earlier this year.
Laney Griffo is a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun.
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Caltrans is continuing intermittent Interstate 80 ramp closures between Kingvale and the Nevada state line for construction activities this week.