Another incident with a Ride the Ducks vehicle over the weekend brings the total to three collisions since a 2015 fatal crash on the Aurora Bridge.
On Sunday, March 19, a Ride the Ducks vehicle trapped a sedan under its front end while driving on Westlake Avenue. The 65-year-old driver of the sedan reported an injury to her hand. Witnesses to the incident report that the Duck vehicle moved into the lane with the sedan.
“Why do they allow these amphibious assault vehicles on our roads?” KIRO Radio’s Don O’Neill asked. “Especially as our cars get smaller, and we see more people on bicycles and motorcycles, jogging and walking. The metal around them is 31 tons. They don’t have big bumpers on them. They are not very forgiving. You can’t see on them very well. They don’t have seat belts on them.”
The Westlake scene is not too different from another incident one year ago. A Ride the Ducks vehicle drove into a sedan on Mercer Street. Again, a sedan was stuck under the truck’s front end. The 92-year-old driver reported no injuries in that case.
The March 2016 collision happened shortly after Ride the Ducks was allowed back on the road in January. The tour company had been halted from touring for about four months after the deadly incident on the Aurora Bridge in 2015.
Five people died in the collision and more than 50 were injured. Victims were foreign students from North Seattle College riding in a tour bus. Families of the victims sued the tour company, but the case was thrown out since the families were not in the country at the time of the incident — they live in Korea.
Limited tours were allowed after the crash, and the vehicles were not allowed on the bridge anymore.
Ride the Ducks incidents
But the two March incidents — a year apart from each other — are not the only collisions involving Duck vehicles since the fatal Aurora Bridge incident. In June 2016, a Duck vehicle crunched a car at 5th Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle. Again, the massive vehicle’s front end rode over a sedan in front of it.
Witnesses of that incident said that the Duck vehicle attempted to move out of the way of an ambulance when the collision occurred, and likely could not see the car in front of it.
Visibility in front of the trucks has been a point of criticism in the past. In 2012, a local motorcyclist sued the Seattle tour company after he was run over and dragged by one of its vehicles. The motorcyclist’s lawyer, Steve Bulzomi, said that the lawsuit resulted in changes to Ride the Ducks vehicles. They installed cameras in front of the vehicles to increase visibility. Bulzomi argued that the drivers had too much on their plate — driving and playing tour guide at the same time. Since the Aurora Bridge incident, the vehicles are required to have a driver and a separate tour guide on board.
According to a Ride the Ducks representative, the vehicles “have great visibility,” with 360 degree video displays and radar systems.
There have also been incidents reported in other cities involving related tour businesses.
But for the two Seattle radio personalities, it all adds up to proof that Ride the Ducks is not a good fit for Seattle streets. And hearing about the most recent collision made Ron quite irate.
“I think it’s time for them to go,” Ron said. “They don’t reflect the values of the City of Seattle. They don’t reflect the values of the Puget Sound area, in my opinion. I would encourage everyone to not patronize them anymore. And encourage your friends and family to not buy a ticket to go on the Ducks. I took my family on the Ducks before this accident. I will never take a visitor on the Ducks again.”
“When you abandon the families of the people you killed in an accident because you didn’t see a service bulletin about that axle, then you use some legal loophole to pay them nothing — you should be ashamed of yourself,” he said. “Then get tourists that don’t know the backstory onto these Ducks, you should be ashamed and you need to go away.”
Listen to Ron and Don’s full commentary below.
A Ride the Ducks representative reached out to MyNorthwest after the initial posting of this article to note that the tour vehicles are 17 tons, not 31 tons.