Volusia County, like many counties in Florida, uses large Beach Patrol trucks to keep beaches safe. However, this year, one of the trucks was involved in a collision with a sunbather, shining the spotlight on Florida truck accidents on beaches. There have been three Beach Patrol accidents in the county since 2010, all involving collisions between trucks and sunbathers.
Miami Beach also has trucks patrolling its beaches. However, in that county, only higher-ranking patrol officers are permitted to drive the patrol trucks on beaches. As well, there is a limit of four trucks on the beach at one time. As well, some patrol officers use ATVs (all terrain vehicles) for their patrols, instead of the larger trucks. ATVs have the advantage of offering improved visibility, especially since they are lower to the ground than standard beach patrol trucks.
Across Florida, beach driving has been studied extensively after two children were killed in 2010 by private vehicles driving on beaches. While many people enjoy driving their trucks or passenger cars on Florida beaches, the combination of sunbathers and vehicles is a poor one. Sunbathers are often not visible to drivers of cars because they are lying down. And sunbathers are often not on the lookout for drivers on a beach. Children, especially, are vulnerable to accidents because they may not know enough to move out of the way of an oncoming vehicle amid the excitement of a day at the beach.
While beach patrol drivers get training to drive on the beach – something that drivers of private vehicles do not get – the accidents involving beach patrol trucks suggest that new rules may need to be considered. Volusia County authorities are investigating the accidents and will likely examine the drivers and vehicles allowed on beach patrol.
Critics say that the beaches could be made safer if private vehicles and larger beach patrol trucks were removed from beaches entirely. If the larger trucks were used to get cars out of sand only, that might help reduce some of the Florida truck accidents involving these vehicles, some have suggested. The larger beach patrol trucks have poor visibility during right turns and U-turns, whereas smaller vehicles and ATVs would ensure better visibility and potentially smaller risks. One local newspaper has suggested placing two officers in each beach patrol vehicle, so that one officer could look for sunbathers and check blind spots as well.
While it is possible that banning private vehicles from beaches would also help prevent Florida car accidents on the state’s beaches, there is a long tradition of beach driving in Florida and many oppose any attempts to ban the practice. Beach driving is also a part of the tourism industry in many cities along the coast, which has helped create a lively debate about the future of beach driving.
If you have been injured in South Florida, contact the Flaxman Law Group for a free consultation. Whether you have been injured on a beach or on the road, you will need aggressive, experienced assistance to help you fight for justice. The Flaxman Law Group is proud to service communities across South Florida, including Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Sunrise, Coral Gables, and many others.