Presenter: Alfonso Campos

Commission Agenda Item No. 10
National Boating Safety Advisory Council
March 26, 2009

I. Executive Summary: The National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) was established by the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971. The Council, of which Major Alfonso Campos is a member, consists of 21 persons drawn equally from state officials; boating industry officials; and representatives of national boating organizations and the general public. The Secretary of Homeland Security appoints Council Members. The Council provides advice to the Coast Guard on a broad range of boating safety matters. One such matter in which Texas is taking the lead involves recommendations to improve the lighting on recreational boats.

II. Discussion: Boat lighting regulations are contained in Title 33 U.S. Code. Commonly called the "Navigation Rules," many were originally enacted in the early 1900's. The rules gradually became such a confusing patchwork of requirements that in the 1960s, in an effort to make nighttime boating safer, several unsuccessful attempts were made to simplify them. Finally, a new effort in 1972 culminated with the enactment of the Inland Navigation Rules Act of 1980. Since then the number of registered boats has grown from 8.5 million to 12.9 million in 2007. Today, with increased traffic and faster boats, technology has advanced to a point that smaller and brighter lights which draw very little energy can be better utilized in the lighting arrangement to make recreational night-time boating safer.

TPWD staff have been in discussions with the U.S. Coast Guard regarding a change to the Navigation Rules Annexes. The change would solve the two main problems associated with nighttime boating - glare and conspicuousness. Eliminating glare increases the operator's ability to see more clearly at night. Improving conspicuousness increases the likelihood that a subject boat will be seen by other nighttime boaters. This can be accomplished by a small federal regulation change that would allow placement of the boat's nighttime lights at or below the deck level where they can best be observed by others and eliminate glare at the same time.

Attachments - 2

  1. Exhibit A - Current Lighting Arrangement
  2. Exhibit B - Proposed Light Arrangement

Commission Agenda Item No. 10
Exhibit A

Current Lighting Arrangement
Rule 23 (c) lights

For help in interpreting this graphic, please contact Alfonso Campos.

Rule 23

Power-driven Vessels Underway

(c) A power-driven vessel of less than 12 meters in length may, in lieu of the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule, exhibit an all-round white light and sidelights

12 meters = 39.4 feet

All-Round light issues:

  • Glare
  • Obstructed
  • Light leaning
  • Not bright enough

Commission Agenda Item No. 10
Exhibit B

Proposed Lighting Arrangement

For help in interpreting this graphic, please contact Alfonso Campos.