Improved accident analysis, theft deterrence among benefits of plan

The U. S. Coast Guard is requesting comments on the costs and benefits of expanding the existing 12-character Hull Identification Number (HIN) in order to provide additional information identifying vessels.

The existing 12-character HIN is required on all recreational boats manufactured or imported into the U. S. The proposed expanded HIN would add five additional characters in order to provide more specific information about each vessel, including length, hull material, means of propulsion, and vessel type.

States, bankers, insurers, and theft and accident investigators favor the expanded format, since it would help deter vessel theft, recovery of stolen vessels, and improve accident data analysis. Boating accident statistics are compiled annually by the Coast Guard to help determine causes of accidents and to address improvemens in boating safety programs to reduce the number of accidents. A 17-character HIN is expected to improve the scope and accuracy of data analyses.

For more background on the proposal, and information on where to submit comments, click here. Comments must be submitted no later than June 16, 2008.