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Mixed waterway usage – Recreational and Commercial Vessel Interactions


In recent years, there have been significant increases in recreational vessel use of waterways frequently used by commercial vessels. The recreational vessels range from human powered craft such as paddle boards and kayaks, to wind powered craft such as sail boards and sail boat to motorized craft ranging from personnel watercraft to motorized vessels. This trend presents safety challenges due to increasing interactions between commercial and recreational vessels. While professional mariners are well versed in the maritime navigation rules and operations, the same level of experience and expertise may not exist in the recreational vessel community. In addition, the commercial vessel traffic is dependent on the ability to communicate with surrounding vessels to ensure safe operations, overtaking and crossing situations. Such means of communication often may not be available, especially with smaller recreational vessels.


The Committee on Marine Safety and Human Factors (AW040) encourages research into the safety and human factors issues around mixed waterway usage. Anticipated research topic areas include but are not limited to, the following subjects:

  1. The feasibility and potential effectiveness of licensing recreational vessel operators.

  2. Awareness, training, and outreach needs of the recreational vessel community in order to ensure safe operation in mixed use waterways.

  3. Awareness, training, and outreach needs of the commercial vessel community in order to ensure safe operation in mixed use waterways.

  4. Potential regulatory approaches to enhance safety in mixed use waterways.

  5. Enhancing the visibility of small recreational vessels by large commercial vessels.

  6. Improved communication methods between commercial and recreational vessels to enhance safety.


This research could help enhance the safety of the Marine Transportation System

Sponsoring Committee:AW040, Marine Safety and Human Factors
Research Period:Shorter than 6 months
Research Priority:High
Date Posted:09/05/2019
Date Modified:09/06/2019
Index Terms:Recreational vehicles, Recreational vessels, Waterways,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Marine Transportation
Safety and Human Factors

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