Most people go the beach to relax, soak up some sun, and enjoy quality time with family and friends. But being on a beach does not necessarily mean peace and calm. Often beachgoers need to stay on the lookout for flying Frisbees, footballs, and children running with pails and shovels. One thing that most beachgoers do not expect is getting hit by a motor vehicle.
In the past five years, 46 pedestrians have been struck by vehicles on the stretch of Florida beaches in Volusia County. The incidents involve trucks, cars, golf carts, and all-terrain vehicles. Despite two fatalities, vehicles are still allowed on the beach.
City officials are hoping to determine how to keep beachgoers safe while still allowing vehicles on the sand. Some of the accidents involve people who were not walking or moving at the time, but were just sitting in their beach chairs. The problem seems to be that drivers don't always see people on the beach in front of them.
While the drivers of the vehicles probably need to pay more attention when they are backing up or beach cruising, the city also needs to consider ways to make the beaches safer. Officials are looking at ways to better separate where people are lying out from the parking areas and are encouraging beachgoers to park further from the beach area.
For those who have been injured in a beach vehicle accident, who is liable? Do they assume the risk of getting hit by a vehicle if they go to a public beach? Can the city be held liable for damages? What about the driver of the vehicle? Can they be held responsible for negligently injuring a pedestrian?
Even though city officials continue to seek ways to make the beaches safe, people are still getting hit by vehicles. These accidents may be unavoidable, but the last thing on a vacationer's mind should be whether they will get hit by a car on the beach.
Source: The Daytona Beach News-Journal online, "Beach-driving stats reveal safety clues," Dinah Voyles Pulver, 7 November 2010