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It's the Law

Sound-Producing Devices


In periods of reduced visibility or whenever a vessel operator needs to signal his or her intentions or position, a sound-producing device is essential.

Sound producing devices

Arizona state law does not require that vessels carry a sound-producing device; however, it is always a good idea to have one on board.

Five or more short blasts mean danger or doubt, which is very important for all boaters to remember.

Federal law requires that vessels operating on federally controlled waters, such as the Colorado River and Lake System, be equipped with sound-producing device(s). On federally controlled waters:

  • Vessels less than 39.4 feet (12 meters) in length, which includes PWC, must have some way of making an efficient sound signal. Examples are a handheld air horn, an athletic whistle, an installed horn, etc. A human voice is not acceptable.
  • Vessels that are 39.4 feet (12 meters) or more in length must have a sound-producing device that can produce an efficient sound signal. The sound signal should be audible for one-half mile and should last for 4 to 6 seconds.