Driving on Florida’s Beaches – An Accident Waiting to Happen?

As much as we all hate to admit it, we have come to expect deadly traffic accidents on our streets and highway.  But on our beaches?  This week a 4-year old Deltona boy was killed while playing on one of Florida’s beaches.  This is the eigth incident involving 10 accident victims on Volusia County’s beaches since March 2009.  Back in March a 4-year old British girl was hit and killed while walking with her grandfather on the beach.

After each one of these terrible accidents the debate begins again – should driving be allowed on Florida’s beaches?

To many people, the beach is nature’s playground where you should be able to run, swim and soak up the sun without the fear of being run over by a car or truck.  Folks are constantly moving their cars as the tide shifts and the driving lanes are moved in and out with the tide.  At times the lanes are very close to the shore which doesn’t leave a lot of room between the parked cars and the driving lanes.  It can really be dangerous.

For other folks, it’s a long-standing tradition and proponents say what is needed are more patrols to keep the beach-goers safe, not a ban on driving.   Some say that not that many people are injured by cars on the beach and the risks are acceptable.   All I can say is tell that to the parents of those 4 -year-old children who have died.

However, driving on the beach also happens to be written into the County Charter.  The Charter requires that the county provide adequate parking to allow everyone public access to the beach.  Without parking on the beach, additional parking lots would need to be added.  While nothing has been done yet, several county officials have suggested that driving on the beach  be put to the voters via a referendum in November.

According to The Daytona Beach News-Journal, 919,652 vehicles traveled on approximately 17 miles of beach from February to November last year.  That’s over 3,000 vehicles a day.  Knowing that a lot more people go to the beach on the week-ends and holidays, you’re looking at significantly more traffic on Saturday, Sunday or holidays.

There is a lot that needs to be done before there can be a ban on driving on the beach.  It will take time and a lot effort to convince some that it the right thing to do.  It will also require that county officials finally take their heads out of the sand and admit that it is their responsibility to keep their tourists and beach-goers safe on their beaches.  Doing nothing should no longer be acceptable.



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