Ride The Ducks has terminated local operations in Philadelphia effective October 5, owing largely to high insurance premiums following a number of crashes involving pedestrians. Duckboat vehicles were designed for WWII supply transport, have extreme visibility issues, and were never intended for operation on city streets. We'd like these dangerous vehicles gone forever.
According to the official statement from Ride the Ducks (RTD), "Due to circumstances outside of our control, including a 330% increase in our insurance premiums, continued operations in Philadelphia are not financially feasible."
While many Philadelphians are relieved to hear this, it's not impossible that RTD or some other Duckboat operator could reincorporate under a different legal entity (with lower insurance premiums, perhaps) and (re)enter the local market and endanger lives once more.
Primarily for the above-stated reason, we believe it is necessary to ban Duckboat vehicles from Philadelphia's streets. We also believe this action may help embolden advocates elsewhere in the U.S. to rally for Duckboat bans in their respective cities, allowing Philadelphia to play an important role here as a national leader. Advocates in Seattle and Boston want to see Duckboat vehicles banned, and New Orleans already banned the military vehicles in 2014, by prohibiting "sightseeing buses capable of amphibious transportation."
Our concern, and the concern of many others in Philadelphia, is the very design of the vehicle that creates enormous blind spots for the driver and makes it inherently dangerous to operate in a dense urban environment. Simply put, these vehicles shouldn't be "street legal" in the same way that a monster truck or armored tank shouldn't be "street legal."
According to Billy Penn, "from 2006 through 2008, Ride the Ducks reported to the NTSB having a total of 32 accidents on Philadelphia’s roads that didn’t lead to any injuries." This figure does not include the crash that killed Elizabeth Karnicki, 68, in Chinatown last year while she was attempting to cross the street, or any other crashes involving injuries or deaths.
We'll wrap with a quote from Robert J. Mongeluzzi, the attorney who is representing the family of Elizabeth Karnicki:
Through our extensive experience representing victims of duck boat disasters we’ve determined those vehicles are fatally flawed; they’re death traps on the water due to their hazardous canopy design and on land they are engineered to restrict the peripheral vision of the operator, creating significant blind spots... A city without duck boat tours is a safer city.
While many are celebrating, Philadelphia is not yet a city without Duckboats. We are simply a city without Duckboats at the moment. We'd like to ensure these dangerous military vehicles never return.