Driving on sandy beaches (especially narrow or steeply sloping beaches) can seriously degrade the coastal environment by damaging beach vegetation, compacting sand, crushing incubating seabird and sea turtle eggs, creating deep ruts and tire tracks that can trap sea turtle hatchlings trying to reach the sea, and accelerating erosion, potentially resulting in the loss of nests to the sea. Vehicles can also strike and kill hatchling seabirds and sea turtles, and frighten females away from nesting. Sea turtle hatchlings huddled just below the surface of the sand (waiting to emerge later in the evening) are not visible and are particularly vulnerable to being crushed by passing vehicles.
Ideally - and with the exception of authorized patrol or emergency vehicles - motorized vehicles should not be allowed to drive on sandy beaches except at authorized boat haul-out sites. In recognition of the potential impacts of beach driving, most areas that allow this practice regulate it in some way. Surfrider Foundation summarizes these regulations as follows: