Boston Duck Tours to Add Second Staff Member for Each Vehicle

The extra person will lead tours while a duck boat driver focuses on driving. The move comes after two crashes this year, one of them fatal.

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Duck boats have been involved in two crashes in Boston this year. / Photo by Samantha Carey

After two recent collisions on the city’s streets, Boston Duck Tours has announced it will soon begin conducting its sightseeing trips with two staff members on each vehicle, instead of one.

In an announcement Monday, the company said the decision to double up was voluntary. The change is set to take effect in March 2017.

“We are eager to move forward with this new staffing plan,” says Cindy Brown, Boston Duck Tours CEO, in a statement. “There is a lot of work to do. Boston is our home; we recognize what a privilege it is to serve residents and visitors and it has always been our commitment to do so utilizing best-in-class safety practices. This can only complement BDT’s current strong safety practices. This change will be in place for the opening of our 2017 season.”

Brown has already contacted Gov. Charlie Baker, Mayor Marty Walsh, and state Sen. William Brownsberger with the news, the release says.

Previously, the two-decade-old operation had dispatched its iconic vehicles with a single driver, who served as an entertainer and tour guide while piloting the massive World War II combat trucks on land and sea.

The duck boats, which bicyclists have long disliked for their heft and deep blind spots, came under new scrutiny following a crash in April that killed 29-year-old Allison Warmuth while she was piloting a motorized scooter in Beacon Hill. Another crash occurred at the corner of Newbury and Clarendon streets in the Back Bay last weekend. The victim’s injuries in that most recent case were described as not life-threatening.

Legislation co-sponsored by Brownsberger seeks new regulations for the vehicles, which would forbid the practice of leading tours while driving and mandate the installation of new cameras and sensors. Warmuth’s parents, Ivan and Martha, have become vocal advocates for the new protections.

Boston Duck Tours has already added new equipment, it says in the release, including “new exterior-view cameras on each Duck, which complement the eight existing mirrors that address visibility. The company is also currently installing sensors for the front and back of the vehicles that will alert the driver to an object in close proximity via visual and audible alerts.”

The company is set to begin the process of hiring 40-50 new staff members, according to Monday’s announcement. Each will have to undergo 8-10 weeks of training, learn first aid and CPR, and get a Class B driver’s license, a Boston Police hackney sightseeing license, and a Cambridge jitney license. They will also have to be randomly drug tested.