The beaches in Volusia County Florida are hot spots for spring breakers and guests because they are the only beaches that allow motor vehicles to be driven on the sand. This fact draws in tourists worldwide annually to enjoy the tradition. In light of recent accidents, could this tradition be drawing to a close?
While there have been sporadic accidents of pedestrians being struck by vehicles on Daytona and New Smyrna Beaches, the recent deaths of two tots in the past four months have generated much controversy and concern in the vacation hotspot.
The two most recent deaths were of Floridian Aiden Patrick, 6, and visitor Ellie Bland, 4. Neither driver faces charges in the tragic accidents. I suppose it would be impossible, even at the beach speed limit of 10 miles per hour, to anticipate a darting child and stop. Residents of Volusia County express their sympathy for the tragic loss of the children, but continue to voice their support of beach driving in their communities. I think it is important to both sympathize with the families of the children, and remain objective. This seems to be the sentiment of Volusia county residents.
Of the 50 miles of beach line in Volusia County, it is legal to drive on 17 miles of it, whereas in the past it was legal to drive
on all 50. That translates to 17 miles where it is legal to drive on the beach in the entire state of Florida, and some fanatics want that right stripped? That leaves 33 miles of child safe beaches in the county, and hundreds more in the state. Some residents state the obvious, saying the parents should have been watching their children, as it is the same as a street.
Is anyone accountable in this type of tragic scenario? Unfortunately, we cannot protect our children from all dangers, we can simply do our best to decrease them. Yet does that mean removing them? If a child is injured in a McDonald’s Playland, should we just sue them and have them all taken out? Supervision plays a critical role in child safety. As a beach resident, I often see parents lose sight of their children because they are staring at the water or walking over to a beach bar, and I have stopped many tots from entering the water unattended. I am not accusing the parents in these particular cases from Daytona Beach, just bringing to light the sense of vacation a beach outing brings, making people drop their guard.
So what some view as an accident waiting to happen, others see old photos of picnicking visitors parked in early model Fords, perhaps the first tailgate parties. In the 1930s, stock car races were enjoyed at low tide between Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach. That tradition lasted through 1959. So is the scrutiny going to lead to the end all of driving on the final 17 miles of Florida’s beaches? Will there be no more sporty SUV rentals, Jeeps, convertibles or even Ferraris cruising along the shores of Volusia County? Would it be a gross overreaction to strip away the right to drive on Florida’s final 17 miles of auto friendly beaches? What are your thoughts?
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