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Trouble in paradise: a systems analysis of beach driving fatalities on Fraser Island (K'Gari)

Stevens, N, Salmon, P M, Patorniti, N (Peer reviewed)


ARSC conference 2015

Beach driving remains a necessary form of transport in Australia, however it is not without incident. Between 2002 and 2015 there were over 160 reported 4WD crashes, including 4 fatalities on Fraser Island (K'gari), off the Queensland coast, Australia. Although beach driving provides a unique driving environment, there is little research investigating the causal nature of such crashes. The paper first reviews the cornerstone areas of the National Road Safety Strategy, in light of this unique driving environment. It also considers the guiding principles of the associated Safe System approach, before describing the results of applying two sociotechnical systems analysis approaches to this complex driving environment and a fatal crash. First, Cognitive Work Analysis was used to describe the K'gari beach driving 'system' along with constraints impacting driver behaviour. Second, Accimap was used to describe the contributory factors involved in a fatal 4WD beach driving accident that occurred in April 2009. The findings show that beaches present as complex roadway environments with a range of often conflicting priorities. Further, the analyses show that beach driving collisions likely involve a larger range of systemic failures than previously identified. In conclusion, the paper discusses the possibilities of Safe Systems interventions in light of the outlined sociotechnical systems approach. The details of current beach driving research are provided, while an overview of the ongoing research agenda is articulated. This agenda seeks to enhance our understanding of cultural, economic, environmental and social implications of off-road and beach driving to improve safety and stakeholder coordination.