Boating in Texas is about to get a whole lot safer with HB 337 (also known as “Kali’s Law”) set to go into effect September 1.
Texans are now required to have a “cut-off switch,” or “kill switch” added to their powerboats for safety and in use for whenever a boat moves out of a “headway” or idle.
Many boating safety advocates believe the new law will significantly reduce the number of boating-related injuries and fatalities witnessed each year on Texas lakes, bays, and rivers.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into action in June of this year and it will apply to drivers of boats 26-feet or less in length.
The device is typically a cord or lanyard with a special clip at one end. The clip attaches to a button or switch that enables the boat’s engine to run. The opposite end secures to the driver’s lifejacket, belt loop or around the wrist.
“The law also contains language allowing for the use of functional wireless attachments, which activate the engine kill switch electronically should the boat operator fall overboard. AutoTether or FELL Marine Man OverBoard are among the most popular wireless kill switch models,” reported the Dallas News.
By enacting this kill switch, it will automatically shut down a boat should the driver fall, or move beyond the length of the lanyard.
But, if you think you don’t need one, you may wish to consider again as not complying will incur a fine by Texas Parks and Wildlife.
“A person who operates a motorboat in violation of Section 31.1071 commits an offense punishable by a fine of not more than $200,” stated from the original house bill.
“Kali’s Law” was introduced several years ago after a San Antonio teenager was thrown from a boat and killed by a propeller while on a fishing trip near Aransas Pass on the Texas Coast in 2012.
Her name was Kali Gorzell. She was only 16.
Gorzell’s family worked tirelessly ever since to convince Texas politicians to create a law to mandate kill switch usage for powerboat operators.
The bill failed to make through the 85th Texas Legislature in 2017, however, it finally saw success in the 86th Legislature.