Beach driving is a Florida tradition – but one that can easily lead to Florida car accidents and serious injuries. Beach driving involves the practice of driving on packed beach sand, often on public beaches with plenty of beachgoers. The result, not surprisingly, can lead to Florida pedestrian accidents and serious injuries.
The practice is long-lived. As early as the first Ford models, drivers were using hard-packed sand at Florida’s beaches to drive. In the 1930s, even races were held on Florida’s beaches, a practice that was not stopped until 1960. Not surprisingly, numerous Florida personal injuries resulted in lawsuits over the practice. Environmentalists have also filed lawsuits against beach drivers, hoping to preserve sea turtles. Homeowners with waterfront properties have also tried to take beach drivers to court, hoping to preserve their beachfront properties.
Today, many beaches prohibit beach driving, however the practice is not officially illegal on all of Florida’s beaches. As well, the results of lawsuits have been mixed. This year, a judge ruled against a New Smyrna Beach, deciding that beach driving did not infringe on the homeowner’s property rights. Softer sand and environmental changes have also meant that in some Florida areas, beach driving has simply become unfeasible.
New Smyrna Beach and Daytona Beach still permit beach driving, but St. Augustine beach has banned the practice following a tragic accident ten years ago. Volusia County also still permits beach driving, but has posted signage advising drivers to stick to the 10 mph speed limit at all times.
Beach drivers interested in taking their cars onto a beach would do well to travel during less busy days at the beach. Busy beach days mean lots of children playing on the beach – and young children may simply not be aware of the dangers of playing near a car. Obeying the speed limit and driving with extra caution are also important to prevent a tragedy.
Parents with young children might want to check beach driving regulations before heading to a beach. Beaches that do not permit beach driving are often safer for very young children, who are more likely to be injured by a car on a beach.