Changes for beach speed limits

SPEED WORRIES: Mount Gambier 4WD Club president Todd Kimber says the new beach speed limits will hinder four-wheel drive excursions.

Charlotte Varcoe

THE Mount Gambier 4WD Club has hit back at changes to be made to speed limits on South Australian beaches.

As of December 1, speed limits across South Australian coastlines will be reduced to 40km per hour and 25km per hour when within 50 metres of a pedestrian unless otherwise signposted.

It comes following an extensive consultation within the community with 80 per cent of the respondents in favour of the reduction.

The most preferred option was a reduction of the overall speed limit to 40km per hour with 25km per hour when within 100 metres of a pedestrian.

Club president Todd Kimber said as a group, members were concerned about the speed limit being a “blanket rule” across remote sections of beaches as well as highly trafficked areas.

“Nobody in the group has a problem with driving slow when there are other people on the beach, especially when they are either fishing or they have got families and kids or dogs around,” Mr Kimber said.

“Once that beach opens up and there is nobody else around there are different conditions and between Carpenters Rock and Robe there are about three or four different sand conditions, none of which you can drive at a slow pace without getting bogged.”

He said the trick to driving four-wheel cars on sand was momentum which was achieved by deflating tires and looking after tracks.

“If you drive too slow you can get bogged and if you get bogged you are wasting fuel and not having an enjoyable time,” Mr Kimber said.

“My concern is that it is a minority of people who are doing the wrong thing which has inspired this change and a majority of people are doing the right thing by slowing down when there are other people on the beach.”

He said the ideal outcome for the club would be to have further conversations with government officials and governing boards to have the opportunity to further express their concerns.

“We cannot travel 40km per hour or 25km per hour on certain sections of the beach or at least they understand a majority of people are doing the right thing and maybe it is more education which is needed,” Mr Kimber said.

“This change is going to mean there will be a lot more work when we do our club runs on the beachfront because we will have to allow a lot more time.

“Group sizing may also have to be reduced because it might take a lot longer to get through certain sections, especially if it does happen to be a long weekend or school holidays.”

Friends of the Shorebirds South East chairperson Jeff Campbell congratulated the government on the change, stating he believed it was “very reasonable”.

“We are very happy with it and believe it is a good idea,” Mr Campbell said.

“This will help shorebirds because you do get groups of birds which will not get disturbed going at a slow pace but are disturbed when a car goes roaring through which means they are using energy and not feeding either.”

He said the change was also good timing ahead of hooded plover season.

“We put in correspondence that it should be 25km per hour where there are fenced off areas for the birds but it was not taken to by the government,” Mr Campbell said.

“It is all about the disturbance of the birds but if there are smaller birds the drivers may not see them and may run them over whereas if they are driving at a slower pace they may see them.

“We all enjoy the beach and like going but the community needs to share the beach with the wildlife, especially the birds which live and breed on our beaches.”

Grant District Council has also received correspondence from the Department of Infrastructure and Transport regarding the future of beach speed limit signs.

Council is expected to discuss the change with the possibility of reviewing pre-existing signage.