Reckless driving fines increase in QPWS areas

Issued: 11 Sep 2023

Motorists caught taking potentially fatal risks in Queensland protected areas will be fined hundreds of dollars more by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) rangers under changes aimed at improving driver behaviour and the safety of visitors.

From 15 September 2023, fines issued by QPWS rangers for some of the most reckless driving offences committed in protected areas and reserves are increasing to match fines issued by the Queensland Police Service.

Offences with increased penalties in national parks, State forests, recreation areas and reserves include:

  • Failure to properly wear a seatbelt – fines will increase from $309 to $1,161.
  • Driving without due care and attention – from $309 to $619.
  • Failure to wear a motorbike helmet while riding, or being a passenger - from $309 to $464.

A new $309 fine of dangerous driving of vehicles other than motor vehicles, such as e-scooters, will also be introduced for State forests to match the existing fine for protected areas and recreation areas.

QPWS rangers are empowered to enforce these vehicle laws and can direct drivers or riders to stop. Failure to comply is an offence.

Manager of QPWS Compliance Optimisation Michael Devery said rangers made no apologies for handing out hefty fines to those caught endangering lives behind the wheel in protected areas.

“Queensland is home to some of the most popular vehicle-accessible beach tracks in Australia – many of which are managed by QPWS,” Mr Devery said.

“While most drivers and riders do the right thing while visiting these places, sadly we have seen the tragic consequences of irresponsible motorists including fatalities and significant injuries.”

Since 2013, there have been five fatal crashes on beaches managed by QPWS at Cooloola, K’gari and Bribie Island.

There have also been multiple serious vehicle rollovers requiring assistance from emergency services, most recently in January 2023 when a vehicle carrying seven teenagers rolled at Teewah Beach.

Dangerous driving, speeding and failure to wear a seatbelt were significant contributing factors to most of these incidents, and rangers continue to witness irresponsible driver behaviour while patrolling these areas.

Over the past 12 months, rangers have issued 29 fines for seatbelt offences, 79 fines for careless driving and three fines for failure to wear a motorbike helmet.

Mr Devery said avoiding these hefty fines was easy.

“Obey all signage including the speed limit, wear your seatbelt, never drink and drive and never let anyone without a licence behind the wheel,” he said.

“The increased fines might hurt if you get one, but they’re a lot less painful than a vehicle rollover or worse.

“Driving in parks and on beaches means navigating changing conditions which can fluctuate daily, especially in tidal areas.

“That’s why it’s so important for drivers, riders and passengers to be secure, sensible and alert at all times.

“Most four-wheel drivers and motorbike riders know how to prepare their vehicles for the outdoors and that same level of care needs to be applied to everyone in and around the vehicle at all times.

“We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable experience on our beautiful beaches, parks and forests, but it’s up to drivers to do the right thing to make this happen.”

Rangers carry out regular patrols of national parks, State forests and recreation areas and work in partnership with the Queensland Police Service to enforce the road rules.

Read more information about driving on the sand (PDF, 2.3MB) .