4WD hoons on beach put pedestrians at risk
A MINORITY of "amped-up" hoons using Airforce Beach at Evans Head to indulge in dangerous driving are putting beach users at risk.
A photo of two children clinging to the roof of a four-wheel drive speeding well beyond the 30km limit was taken last Saturday by a concerned local man.
The long-time beach stroller, who didn't want to be named, said Airforce Beach had become a haunt for hoonish behaviour over recent years as the popularity of four-wheel driving had skyrocketed.
He said he had seen children as young as six driving cars either by themselves or on their parent's laps, children being towed behind cars on various implements, drivers speeding and doing donuts on the sand.
"People get in their four-wheel drive to have what they consider fun," he said.
"For some it's a leisurely drive up the beach, but for others it's tearing up the beach as fast as they can.
"At high tide sometimes (the beach) is only 25m wide, you've got soft sand so a lot of people think they've got to go faster.
"It's crazy stuff.
"People shouldn't feel free to act as a d--khead and intrude on everybody else's amenity and people's safety ... we're talking about sometimes two tonnes of machinery.
"If a risk manager had a look at it they would close it down, just the simple fact that pedestrians are sharing access with four-wheel drives."
The observer said one problem making the issue worse was "Richmond Valley Council's sea of signage" which "bombards drivers with an overwhelming 400-plus words of local government gobbledygook".
"Most give up before they get to the last dot point, which says they must give way to all humans, birds, animals and other beach users at all times."
The observer also pointed out the council didn't know exact figures on how many four-wheel drives were using the beach as the last time they installed a counter was five years ago.
A council spokeswoman said council rangers had a policy of warning loutish drivers, but couldn't issue fines - that was up to the police.
The council was also in the process of updating signage at Airforce Beach so the major beach driving rules could be more easily observed.
"I drive there myself. I could be cutting my own throat doing this, but you see some things and you've got to say 'no'," the local said.
"It can't keep going on the way it is."
BEACH DRIVING RULES
Enforceable by police, the same as any public road.
Speed limits are 30km on Airforce Beach, 15km when near any pedestrians or wildlife.
Vehicles must be registered and seatbelts worn at all times.
It is illegal to carry passengers outside the vehicle cabin, in utility trays or on boat trailers.
It is illegal to drive on dunes.
Drivers must always give way to animals and humans.
Look out! Endangered birds such as pied oyster catchers and little terns often shelter in wheel ruts.