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Huntington Beach Votes to Charge Visitors for Car Accidents

Starting next month, visitors to Huntington Beach, California could be leaving with a lot less than they came with. A new measure approved this week would charge out-of-towners who cause a traffic accident in the city the cost of sending a fire truck out to the crash site.

With vacationers still flocking to Huntington Beach to catch the end of summer, the potential for a lot of foreign traffic is high. Over the years, this spike in visitors has often correlated with a similar spike in accidents.

In total, city officials estimate that around 300 car accidents a year are caused by visitors to the scenic city. That equals thousands of dollars in emergency responder costs that tax-paying citizens would normally be forced to pay for.

That's how it used to work, anyway. Starting in September, out-of-towners will pay:

  • $595 for a car accident involving spilled gas or oil
  • $750 for a burning vehicle
  • a whopping $1,995 if someone requires extrication from a crushed vehicle

The fire chief alone bills $210 an hour for time spent on the scene.

Visiting drivers aren't the only ones targeted in Huntington Beach's new set of rules. Local utility companies will also be getting a bill for firefighters who respond to "downed power lines, burst pipelines and hazardous-materials spills."

It is estimated that these situations happen about 60 times every year.

Visitors involved in car accidents, but not responsible for them, should not be held financially accountable for emergency responders.

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