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Trucks on the beach present more risk than reward
Tom Quimby | May 16, 2017
A lifeguard truck patrols Ocean Beach in San Diego. (photo: socalbeachesblog.com)
A lifeguard truck patrols Ocean Beach in San Diego. (photo: socalbeachesblog.com)

Trucks can end up in some questionable jobs, including beach patrol where sunbathers often layout and lose themselves for hours on end.

And sure enough, stories from time to time will emerge where a public employee accidently runs over an unsuspecting beachgoer, leaving both scared out of their minds.

That was the case this past Friday when a Miami-Dade County Parks and Recreation officer inadvertently ran over not one, but three people who had been laying on the warm sand of Key Biscayne. (And warm it is. Florida is already getting into the 90s. So much for spring.)

Thankfully, the man, woman and 16-year-old boy appeared to have sustained minor injuries. A witness reported that all three victims were screaming as the pickup, an F-150, drove over their legs. Another witness reported that the 23-year-old pickup driver was shocked and devastated by what he had just done.

Park and rec departments across the U.S. frequently drive pickups on beaches where they come in handy for hauling trash and other things. Some law enforcement agencies will also use pickups to patrol the beaches which—let’s face it—can get overrun by funnel-toting lawbreakers that are probably better off in the back of a pickup bed than a public beach. Not that I advocate tossing anyone into the back of a pickup—a bed-mounted crane should do the trick.

Some might say that having the right kind of sensors can prevent any collision between trucks and people. However, whether a pickup is equipped with capable sensors, radar or a diligent flagman is immaterial. There’s just too much risk and unpredictability on a beach filled with people—the guy going out for a long pass; young children running around; people getting buried in the sand.

And people are not the only concerns. People will dig pits that may not always be so easy to spot during low-light conditions. (That frequently happened during the spring break craze here a few years ago in Panama City Beach, Fla. It got so bad that a law had to be put on the books to prevent college students and other aspiring revelers from attempting to dig what appeared to be a basement apartment). And while one can still hope that beachgoers will properly dispose of their trash, too often their refuse—including glass bottles—ends up on the beach. Of course, bottles can break under the load of a truck tire which then leaves behind a mess of broken glass for unsuspecting bare feet.

If trucks are continued to be used on the beach, then an access should be created which is off-limits to sunbathing. That, or a four-wheeler or utility vehicle could be used instead to provide riders a closer look at their surroundings.

While putting a pickup on the beach can be helpful under the right conditions, using one on in area frequented by beachgoers poses too much risk in a rising tide of litigation.

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