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Tourists and residents alike flock to South Florida beaches to “hang ten” and get in some of the best surfing in the eastern U.S. Palm Beach is home to surfing schools and surfing events that are held year round.  Unfortunately, some daring teens in Florida have turned to an extremely dangerous type of surfing for their fun – car surfing. 

According to an article in the USA Today, car surfing is “a thrill-seeking activity in which people — mostly teens and young adults — ride on the exterior of a vehicle while it’s being driven by another person.” And, the article warns, incidents caused by car surfing could increase over the summer months when teens have more driving freedom with school out for the season. 

In a 2008 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Injuries Resulting from Car Surfing — United States, 1990–2008,” the CDC reports since 1990 at least 99 people died or sustained serious injuries as a result of car surfing.  The typical car surfer is a 17.6-year-old male, with the most injuries or fatalities occurring in teen males between the ages of 15 and 19.  Florida is not the only state popular for this “sport.”  The CDC reports injuries have been reported in 31 states, although a regional pattern was detected with 39% from the Midwest and 35% from the South. 

Just last week a 16-year-old Palm Beach Gardens teen was allowed to return home after spending over a month in a medical facility where she recovered from a catastrophic brain injury suffered from a car surfing incident, according to news reports.  Sadly, the driver and the girl’s friends in the car at the time of the incident were all profoundly affected by the accident as well. 

“[It’s] One of those things that will be imprinted in your mind forever but honestly. I mean it’s great so everybody can learn from it, but at the same time it never should have happened in the first place and if I could take it back I would,” said the teen driver about the accident.  The group of girls said all they can do now is hope that others do not make the same mistakes they did, according to

Drivers can also be charged in the injury or death of a friend car surfing.  One Florida teen was sentenced to a year of house arrest and five years probation after pleading no contest to two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of reckless driving stemming from a car-surfing crash last year, according to the USA Today.  The CDC reported that serious injury can occur even when a car is traveling just 5 mph. 

Largely parents are in the dark about car surfing. In fact, the mother of the injured Palm Beach Gardens teen said, “I didn’t even know what car surfing was.” 

Arlene Greenspan, associate director for science at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the CDC and a co-author of the 2008 study, said many parents are likely unaware that car surfing is being done by their children. “Parents need to be aware of the risks of some of the things their teens are doing out there,” Greenspan says. “They should be addressing these risks with their teens.” 

Parents and other influential adults should be aware of car surfing and its potentially deadly consequences, reports the CDC. It adds that the key to prevention is for adults to talk to teens about the real risk of injury and death that car surfing poses. 

Our South Florida car accident lawyers agree and urge parents to take the time to stress the dangers and extreme risk involved in car surfing.  We encourage our young Florida residents to enjoy their summer months, but ask that they engage in safe behaviors so they can live to see another summer. Your life is not worth the risk of a short thrill ride. 

About Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney

The law firm of Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, has provided professional and compassionate legal assistance to personal injury and accident victims in South Florida on the Treasure Coast since 1975. The firm’s practice areas include car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, product liability, medical malpractice, dog bite injuries, slip and fall injuries, swimming pool accidents and wrongful death claims. The firm represents clients throughout the South Florida communities of Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and Vero Beach and across the state of Florida. For more information, call (800) 299-8878 or use the firm’s online contact form.