Jul 18

A little flag on your SUV isn’t going to stop Dunes deaths

So we learned last week that the powers that be out at the Oceano Dunes are considering some new rules aimed at making the area safer for its thousands of free-wheeling visitors.

Apparently the most notable of these improvements is one requiring rod-and-flag assemblies on all vehicles who brave the interior dunes area of the park.

Currently, only off-highway vehicles must have the flags, which reach eight feet into the air to make the vehicle more visible to other drivers. The new rules will require street-legal vehicles like SUVs and trucks to also sport the setups.

This is a nice idea, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough.

And I wonder how much it will actually help, having a wee twig with a nifty scarf whipping about in the sand wash of your two-ton Hummer as you pop a wheelie over that 50-foot dune.

Will the guy on the quad just over the crest — the one fully exposed with no frame or roll bars — really benefit from this change?

Which leads us to the most sensible safety improvement the Dunes could make if administrators really wanted to reduce the number of accidents: That would be requiring any drivers who want to jump a dune to post a spotter at the top before careening blindly over the top with no knowledge of what’s on the other side.

How often do we hear about deadly accidents on our highways involving drivers who made reckless passing maneuvers around blind curves? And yet this devil-may-care style of driving is standard operating procedure for many thrill-seekers at the Dunes.

It is worth noting that as part of this current review, administrators are also refining some other rules regarding what is or is not considered unsafe driving.

Here’s hoping that change is among those considered.

Putting a stop to a common Dunes behavior that is so obviously foolish and dangerous would be the best place to start in any effort to improve overall safety.

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  1. Sarah

    I think that adding flags to vehicles to make them more visible is a small but important first step.

  2. Stunned

    Flags have been “required” for many years yet never enforced. Even the rangers oftentimes have smaller or worn out flags that are barely visible.

    I like the idea of posting spotters and anyone who rides or “dunes” much already does it.

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