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Sand, Surf, Traffic, Fatalities

Unlike at other beach resorts, the New Smyrna Beach traffic accidents happen on the beach itself. Sea turtles receive protection from the traffic allowed on the beach, but not children. On Sept. 5, a 4-year was run over fatally, the 2nd this year.

Beach front driving and parking here go back to the horse and buggy days, and even marked the first Nascar racing strips. Despite over 40 beach deaths by vehicles in the last 5 years, the town of 24,000 has no desire to change the practice, though the Volusia County Council agreed to installation of signs warning motorists of children at the entrances.

"Debates over the practice are nothing new. Over the decades, several lawsuits have been filed, either by environmentalists looking to protect sea turtles or by waterfront homeowners complaining about property rights. Turtle nests now mean that driving is prohibited in some areas."

"On weekends as far as you can see in either direction, there are thousands of cars," said Brandon McKenney, 39, whose family owns the Breakers (beachfront restaurant), which sits beside a tollbooth charging $5 for each car let onto the beach. "Where are you going to put them? They'd have to buy or build parking lots, and my taxes are high enough."

The speed limit is 10-mph. Neither motorist that ran over the two children this year were cited.

Full Story: A Challenge to Florida Beach-Driving Tradition


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