Beach is also a street It may be a playground, but . . .
But like dozens of motorists learn each week, it’s also a city street.
“We love to see visitors come here and enjoy the beach,” said Lt. James Stokes, who heads the Port Aransas Police Department’s patrol division. “But our biggest message is simply to obey the traffic laws on the beach. They’re for everybody’s safety.”
Stokes recognizes that Port Aransas is a resort town, and doesn’t advocate a hard-nosed approach to traffic patrols on the beach. But he pointed out that traffic laws do apply on the beach just as they would on any other street.
“Changing the surface you’re driving on doesn’t change the traffic laws,” he noted.
However, because there’s so much to see and do on the beach, motorists sometimes tend to forget the normal driving rules.
Then, too, visitors find themselves on an unfamiliar surface: Sand, which is sometimes loose and dry, making driving more difficult.
“Quite often drivers tend to accelerate too much on the sand, which can just make things worse,” Stokes said.
It can also put them well over the speed limit, which is 15 miles an hour along the Port Aransas beach.
As well, the sand seems to lead to such things as doing donuts, hanging off the sides of vehicles and children under the age of 18 riding in the open backs of pickup trucks – all illegal on city streets, therefore unlawful on the beach as well.
Besides the sand, tides and seaweed can also affect beach driving. All are things the driver should be aware of.
Stokes pointed out that parking is also controlled. In particular, parking next to the dune line is prohibited. Other areas of the beach have signs regulating parking.
“Double- and triple-parking can really narrow the roadway,” Stokes said. “It severely limits our ability to respond to emergencies.”
He did have praise for drivers who visited Port Aransas over the past Memorial Day weekend, traditionally one of the busiest weekends in the city.
“We had one of the biggest Memorial Day crowds I’ve ever seen over my years here,” said Stokes, who has been a Port Aransas police officer for more than 12 years. “We had no more trafficrelated issues than we usually have.”
With luck and close attention, things will go as well over the Independence Day holiday in a little more than two weeks.