A pedestrian was struck by a duck boat in Boston on Sunday morning. The accident occurred on the corner of Newbury and Clarendon Streets around 11:30 a.m. Boston police said the pedestrian suffered non-life-threatening injuries but was taken to Tufts Medical Center with some head trauma. The woman who was hit admitted that she was crossing the street against the crossing signal. Witnesses confirmed that the duck boat had the right of way. Police said the investigation is ongoing with no charges being filed to date. Boston Duck Tours made a statement saying, “We are grateful to learn from police that no one was seriously injured in today’s incident.” This is the second crash involving a duck boat in Boston in three months. In April, 28-year-old Allison Warmuth was riding a moped near Boston Common when she was struck and killed. Earlier this week, Warmuth’s parents were in Boston addressing lawmakers regarding adding regulation to the vehicles. Anna Warmuth, mother of Allison, made a statement saying, “Anybody that is near them is at risk because the driver may not see them, just like the driver did not see my daughter.”
Some are going even further than requesting more regulations. Bob Mongaluzzi, Philadelphia attorney, asks, “How many deaths will it take for cities and organizations to wake up and ban the ducks?” Mongaluzzi has been asking this question for years, claiming the duck boats are inherently dangerous “both on land and on the water.” He goes on to state the major hazards with the vehicles, stating, “They take up almost the entire lane of travel. They’re cumbersome. They have huge blind spots. They are built on chassis from the 1940s.” Mongaluzzi represents the families of three people killed by duck boats dating back to 2011. He has also uncovered more than 20 deaths involving duck boats since 1999. He notes the first major duck boat tragedy occurred in Arkansas in 1999 killing 13 people after they were trapped beneath the canopy of a capsized duck boat and drowned. Mongaluzzi believes that the design of the boats is an “intrinsic safety flaw.” Aside from the sheer design of the boat being difficult to maneuver, the driver also acts as a tour guide for the vehicles. “Having an operator who is also a tour guide, telling jokes at the same time, is an enormous distraction,” Mongaluzzi states. After last year’s collision between a duck boat and a charter bus in Seattle that killed five and injured 50 others, Seattle enacted several new rules to make the vehicles safer, including separate tour guides on board the duck boats.
This recent accident in Boston has further amplified the need for change that arose with Allison Warmuth’s death. Warmuth’s parents are advocating for a bill by State Senator William Brownsberger that would ban drivers of duck boats to also act as tour guides. Additionally, the bill would require blind-spot cameras and proximity sensors on duck boats. Brendan Kearney, a spokesman for Walk Boston, a nonprofit that advocates for pedestrian safety, noted that duck boats “are vehicles that were meant to storm the beaches of Normandy,” not to transport tourists around urban environments where many people are walking, biking, and driving. Although a complete ban of the popular tourist attractions may be far off, simple yet effective safety precautions can be implemented in order to prevent further injury.
“Citing Deaths, Lawyer Calls For Ban Of Duck Boats.” CBS Boston. N.p., 2 May 2016. Web. 11 July 2016.
“Pedestrian Hit by Duck Boat in Boston.” WCVB. N.p., 10 July 2016. Web. 11 July 2016.
Ransom, Jan, Trisha Thadani, and Nicole Fleming. “After 2nd Duck Boat Crash This Year, a Renewed Call for Change.” Boston Globe. N.p., 10 July 2016. Web. 11 July 2016.