The sand curb builds instantly and if the steering direction is altered, like to avoid an incoming wave, driftwood or other beach users, the front wheels catch on this curb with such force the steering wheel can be ripped out of your hands as the steering wheel spins to full lock in the direction of the turn –sometimes breaking the driver’s thumbs in the process.
The full lock at right angles causes the front wheels to dig in like a bulldozer blade and stop while the rest of the vehicle is still moving. The car then violently flips over the front wheels at a 45-degree angle.
Before you take your off road vehicle on the beach check that your insurance policy covers your 4WD activities. Off road vehicles that get stuck in the sand on the beach are quickly destroyed by the powerful surging sweepers on the wild west coast. This 4wd wreck was one of two spotted on Muriwai beach at our last demo.
Fatal SUV Rollover Report
One of the worst accidents on Muriwai Beach was in July 2004.
Of the five people in the SUV vehicle three were killed when it rolled seven times. One of the survivors suffered serious spinal injuries
The NZ Serious Crash Unit investigated why this fatal SUV rollover killed three people on Muriwai Beach.
The program focused on how easy it is to flip a vehicle on sand and the scenario described above was suggested as the likely cause of the fatal SUV rollover.
The vehicle was allegedly travelling 100kph plus on a straight part of the beach and possibly made a slight turn to avoid a wave. The experts agreed the front wheels had caught in the guttering scenario above and the vehicle flipped so violently it was airborne for 9.5 meters.
After landing it rolled seven and a half times before coming to rest.
The number fatalities and serious injuries were high because many of the victims were thrown from the vehicle by the huge forces involved in the rollover accident. It was suggested that a slight difference in the hardness of the sand during the turn could have been a contributing factor to the accident.