It was only a matter of time:

Overweight Americans Sink Old Boat-Safety Rule

The growth of America's waistline has hit the waterways. Since it's not polite to throw a man overboard, the U.S. Coast Guard is revising a standard that commercial boat owners use to determine how many passengers they can safely board and still meet weight limits.

The agency, trying to protect more than 6,000 sightseeing, water taxis and ferries from being overloaded, proposes increasing the assumed weight of adult passengers to 185 pounds, from the 1960s-era standard of 160 pounds. The action was spurred by boats sinking in Baltimore and New York in 2004 and 2005 that killed 25 persons.

``This regulation has the potential for being the most challenging rule for our industry in a long time,'' said John Groundwater, executive director of the Passenger Vessel Association in Alexandria, Virginia. The trade group supports the weight increase if owners are given credit for a strong safety record and practices such as not filling their boats to capacity.

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