2 Jan 2015

Beach drivers warned to take care

12:26 pm on 2 January 2015

Police and road safety authorities are warning holidaymakers to be careful driving on beaches following a rash of crashes in recent days, including two fatals.

In the latest incident, a 24-year-old man died when a four-wheel-drive vehicle flipped on Papamoa Beach near Tauranga.

Western Bay of Plenty Area Commander Inspector Clifford Paxton said the man, who died at the scene, wasn't wearing a seatbelt.

Driver behaviour and alcohol were other factors in the crash, in which four other people escaped without injury, Mr Paxton said.

"Where people are using the beaches as a road, we need to make sure that the same rules and levels of behaviour that we expect out on the roads are applied."

James Williams, who is holidaying in the area, said the crash happened on a part of the beach where vehicles could be driven.

Eyewitnesses told him the vehicle rolled at speed, the man was thrown out the window and the SUV came down on him, Mr Williams said.

Transport Agency spokesman Andy Knackstedt said such incidents were tragic.

"We understand that when people are on holiday you're in holiday mode and you might let your guard down and do things a little bit differently but the consequences can be just devastating when things go wrong."

Mr Knackstedt said defining beaches as public roads allowed the police to enforce traffic rules and local authorities to set speed limits.