New Safety Guidelines From ABYC
Every year, industry experts meet for a week to develop safety standards for boats.
Here’s what came out of the last meeting
BoatU.S. has your back By Charles Fort
Bigger and stronger
motors mean more
stress on the rigging,
particularly steering components. The
industry is reviewing
standards for rigging triple and quad
outboards to provide
to manufacturers who
One day, if you have time, look through the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Regulations. You’ll find hun- dreds of federal laws that cover almost every aspect of a vehicle, extending to trucks, motorcycles, and even boat trail- ers. But try searching for boat-safety regulations; you won’t
find many. The U.S. Coast Guard has laws that regulate a few items, such as
gasoline fuel systems, navigation lights, and capacity and flotation, but there aren’t
many federal government regulations that apply to building recreational boats. Why?
Because decades ago, the industry came together to head off what could have been
hundreds of automotive-type regulations by promising to police themselves. For the
most part, they’ve done a good job.
The American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC), formed in 1954, is the organization
that writes safety standards used by most boatbuilders, surveyors, and boatyards.
Unlike federal regulations, the ABYC guidelines are voluntary and considered
minimum standards. Without the force of federal law behind them, you’d think that
there’d be little to compel manufacturers
to adhere to ABYC standards, yet the
majority of boats built in the United
States comply with all or most of them.
But if a manufacturer is ever brought into
court for a liability issue – if, say, someone
is hurt when a new boat catches fire – the
court, in the absence of legal regulations,
will usually consider ABYC standards as
the custom of the industry, as if they were
actually required by law.
Who Writes These Standards?
Throughout the year, ABYC convenes
volunteer committees of boatbuilders,
accessory manufacturers, marine
surveyors, representatives of the U.S. Coast