Since 2009 there have been more than 100 people injured and 4 killed in incidents involving four wheel drive vehicles on world heritage listed Fraser Island (K’gari), off the southern Queensland coast, Australia. As a gazetted road any person with a regular on-road or international driving license is permitted to drive on the beach at up to 80km / hour. However, the beach driving environment is one of rapid change, unstable surfaces, pedestrian priority, distraction and limited signage nor instruction. Given the beach context, it is apparent that the beach driving ‘system’ is different to the standard road system; however, this is yet to be explored both in regard to the contributory factors involved in road crashes and to the responsibilities for beach driving safety. The research to be presented is a response to this, attempting to identify the differences between roadway environments and the resulting implications for crash prevention. This study uses the sociotechnical systems approach of AcciMap to explore and describe the range of governance structures and the large variety of actors associated with beach driving on K’gari. The resultant ActorMap is then examined in consideration of the multiple levels of causality in the context of the beach as a fatal roadway environment. The results allow for a greater understanding of the vertical integration between the array of decision-makers and the accidents. As well as showing clearly that beach crashes represent a significantly different problem space to road crashes, this research identifies a number of significant failures in the management and regulation of beach driving on Fraser Island, and makes recommendations for change. In closing this study articulates a research agenda designed to enhance our understanding of the cultural, economic, and social implications of beach and off-road driving to improve safety and stakeholder coordination.
2015 University Research Conference: Integrate, Innovate, Inspire, Sunshine Coast, Australia 13-16 July 2015