Interest in recreational boat kill cords (emergency engine cut-off switches and lanyards) strongly peaked in the United Kingdom (UK) following the Nicholas Milligan family accident at Padstow Harbor on May 5, 2013.

Interest world wide was also very high after the accident.

As an example of the peak in interest, we investigated Google search frequencies. Google Trends charts popular search terms as a percent of their all time interest (frequency of being searched for) during the selected time interval.

We charted Google “kill cord” searches in the UK:


Note the strong 100 percent rating just after the May 5th accident. The granularity of the data was not fine enough for us to observe a “bounce” after the May 17, 2013 MAIB announcement that the kill cord was not attached to the yet to be identified operator of the Milligan RIB.

We also charted Google “kill cord” searches world wide:


The world also spiked Google search frequencies for “kill cord” following the Milligan accident.

Lastly, we charted Google “kill cord” searches in the U.S.:


Frankly, we were a bit surprised to see the U.S. at least “bounced” in interest following the Milligan accident. As we been have visited with people across the United States following the Milligan accident, few were aware of the accident before we told them of it. Even U.S. people, firms, and organizations with strong ties to boat propeller safety issues were unaware of the accident. We suspect “kill cord” is not frequently searched for, and the those people in the U.S. following UK news in general may have searched for the term enough to spike it here. We have access to some tools that can turn some of these search frequency percentages into actual numbers of searches once the data comes out in the future. We will try to return to this story at that time.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has at least been exhibiting some interest in kill cords / kill switch lanyards following the requests for public comment by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) as they considered requiring kill switches to be in new boats and also considered requiring the mandatory use of kill cords. USCG requested public comments in an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published in the Federal Register on June 8, 2011. You can observe a considerable rise in kill cord searches in the U.S. following that announcement.

On the flip side, as we visited with others interested in propeller safety issues around the world after the Milligan accident, many of them were already aware of it, and some were sending us news clips about it.

Reference: please note the term “kill cord” has applications beyond recreational boats or PWCs. Kill cords are used on many types of equipment. Searches for those applications probably contributed some of the searches seen above.

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