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As any North Carolina Outer Banks beachgoer knows, during peak tourist season the area can get pretty packed. Added to the mix of families and friends who head out with their umbrellas, coolers and ocean toys are, of course, the vehicles off-roading down the beach.

Driving on Outer Banks beaches is an important way to make sure that visitors can easily travel up and down the narrow stretch of land that connects all the Outer Banks communities. But the mix of cars driving in the same area where children and adults are at play can present some pretty serious safety issues. Despite the low speed limits and all of the precautions that drivers are expected to take, when beach use is at its peak, ensuring safety remains a challenge.

For these reasons, the Currituck County, North Carolina (NC), commissioners may consider a change to local ordinances related to off-road beach driving. As the Virginian-Pilot reported,, the commissioners are reviewing several proposals to address safety concerns on the 11-mile stretch of beach road at the northern end of the Outer Banks. One of those proposals is aimed at minimizing the need for beach-goers to cross vehicle traffic. That specific proposal would mean that during tourist season, there would a “safe zone” on the beach, forcing traffic to move further behind parked cars and sunbathers. Establishing this safe zone would require changing local ordinances, a process that involves public hearings and a favorable vote from the commissioners.

Before next summer rolls around that tourists start to flood onto the Outer Banks again, now is a good time to think about how beach safety can be improved.

About the Editors: The Shapiro, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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