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On Sunday a 26-year old Santa Maria man was killed in a single ATV accident. Details of the crash are not yet known. The alarming number of fatalities and serious injuries at the Oceano Dunes no doubt arms the anti off-road riding crowd with additional ammunition to close the beach to vehicular traffic. I’m not sure closing the beach will solve the problem. Those who love to ride will simply ride elsewhere if the beach is closed.

This message will not go into the environmental arguments over the off-road riding issues. But, from a safety standpoint, something must be done. Whether it be additional required training, safety equipment or limiting access to some of the more dangerous areas, such as “Competition Hill” where this accident happened, something must be done. Too many children and young adults are being hurt or killed. It is estimated that there are up to 300 serious accident per year at the 1500 acre off road area.

It is too easy to glibly enter this debate from afar. When your family has been personally affected by such an accident the debate takes on a completely different tone. I would love to hear suggestions from those who ride more than I do.

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