Vehicle Accidents in State and National Parks
Along with summer fun, summer safety is top of mind for many families. As well it should be. We recently wrote about the increased risks and dangers to teens and children in open waters as families head to the beach. Another important concern is staying safe in the outdoors, in places that are new to us and can result in personal injury. Georgia’s parks and recreational areas are wonderful places for family fun. But we all must be mindful when in the outdoors. Here are some tips for staying safe while traveling this summer.
Go slowly on mountain roads and pay attention in areas that are new to you as a driver. Last month a fatal truck crash at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park not only took one life, but caused injury to several others. This is the fourth crash that resulted in a fatality this year at the park. This most recent accident involved a pick up truck that was hauling a flat bed trailer. The trailer was carrying another pick up truck. Apparently the pick up truck driver lost control of his vehicle and was not able to handle the trailer he was pulling. He collided with two oncoming vehicles which resulted in several victims being taken to the hospital. The other accidents that occurred at the park this year, included a fatal fall from a bicycle, a fatal motorcycle crash and a single vehicle crash.
Our Parks Are Safe, When Warnings are Heeded
The National Park Service is a great resource for health and safety when preparing to visit a park. They report that many fatalities in national parks are preventable and are due to heat stroke and failure to bring sufficient water. Hiking and climbing can be exhilarating, but failing to take the dangers seriously can result in serious injury or worse. Visiting parks and recreation areas is a great part of summer fun. But visitors should heed warnings and avoid dangerous situations that can result in harm. This is a problem around the country.
Millions of people visit our national and state parks and relatively few fatal injuries occur each year. But when they happen, they are usually due to lack of preparation or failure to heed warnings. For example, this year in Yosemite National Park a hiker fell from Half Dome and was fatally injured. This climb requires great upper body strength, can be slippery as climbers are on a granite surface and can become treacherous when the weather changes quickly. Some visitors want to get bragging rights that they climbed this massive rock. It is unwise to take this climb without lots of preparation before it is attempted. Another fatal accident occurred several years ago when a visitor decided to try to stand on a rock at the top of Yosemite Falls. When it became slippery he lost his footing and was taken over the falls. He did not survive. He failed to heed warnings not to get into the water at the top of the falls.
Be Prepared, Plan Ahead
So before you go, prepare for your visit by reading about where you are headed and how you can best enjoy the outdoors. Our state and national parks often have warnings posted to help visitors stay safe. These might be to stay away from wild animals or to remain back from hot springs at Yellowstone. Or they might be about the dangers of feeding wild animals. Pay attention to these warnings, they are intended to be followed and keep you safe. Although we might be tempted to get a selfie with a bison at Yellowstone two visitors were thrown into the air by one such animal on a visit as they took a selfie with the animals in the background. A tragic situation at Yosemite in the past involved a child feeding a potato chip to a mule deer who was fatally wounded by the deer’s antlers. A tragedy at Grand Canyon National Park several years ago involved a dad who failed to take mother nature seriously. To scare his teenage daughter, he pretended to fall over the edge of the canyon. As he stood at a railing circling his arms as though he was about to fall, he was taken over the edge and did not survive.