Critics: Duck boats aren’t built for streets
Seattle – — Even before a duck boat crashed into a charter bus in Seattle, killing four international students, calls had emerged for greater oversight and even an outright ban on the military-style vehicles that allow tourists to see cities by road and water.
Critics say the large amphibious vehicles are built for war, not for ferrying tourists on narrow city streets.
“Duck boats are dangerous on the land and on the water. They shouldn’t be allowed to be used,” Robert Mongeluzzi, a Philadelphia attorney, said Friday, renewing his call for a moratorium on their operation nationwide.
His firm represented the families of victims in a deadly 2010 crash near Philadelphia. A tugboat-guided barge plowed into a duck boat packed with tourists that had stalled in the Delaware River, sinking the boat and killing two Hungarian students.
“They were created to invade a country from the water, not to carry tourists,” said Mongeluzzi, whose firm now represents the family of a woman killed in May by an amphibious vehicle in Philadelphia.
Some attorneys also question the focus of the drivers. In Seattle, tours are complete with exuberant operators who play loud music and quack through speakers.
“This is a business model that requires the driver to be a driver, tour guide and entertainer at the same time,” said Steve Bulzomi, the attorney for a motorcyclist who was run over and dragged by a duck boat that came up behind him at a stoplight in Seattle in 2011.
Brian Tracey, president of Ride the Ducks Seattle, which is independently owned and operated, said Thursday that it was too early to speculate about what happened. “We will get to the bottom” of the crash, he said.
He said the captains are Coast-Guard certified and licensed as commercial drivers, and are required to take continuing education once a month.
State regulators last conducted a comprehensive safety inspection of the Ride the Ducks’ fleet, including driver qualifications, employee drug and alcohol testing, in 2012. They issued a satisfactory rating. The company operates 17 amphibious vehicles and employs 35 drivers.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.