FIX THE KILLER HIGHWAY NOW
By DAVID MOASE
FOUR people dead in three fatal accidents on one small stretch of highway.
That is the gruesome equation that newly sworn-in Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal must find an answer to before anyone else dies on the Pacific Highway near Arrawarra.
Two men were killed in an horrific crash just north of Arrawarra Creek yesterday morning and their deaths were met with calls for immediate action to improve safety along the deadly stretch of highway.
The men died after their northbound Mitsubishi sedan collided with a southbound four-wheel-drive vehicle towing a caravan.
Three people, a back-seat passenger in the car in which the men died and the two occupants of the 4WD, were injured.
The accident scene was just 100 metres from the site of a fatal crash a little more than a week ago in which Sandy Beach man Robert Lindsay Taylor was killed.
It is also close to where Queensland policeman Stewart Kerlin was killed in a highway head-on last November.
Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser yesterday called on Mr Roozendaal and Premier Morris Iemma to immediately visit Coffs Harbour to view the state of the Pacific Highway.
He repeated his request for safety barriers to be installed along the stretch ? all three recent fatal crashes involved a car crossing to the wrong side of the road and may well have been prevented by barriers.
"The Pacific Highway is currently claiming at least one life a week on sections of the highway that have not yet been upgraded," he said.
"It is imperative that the Government address the driving conditions in these areas to minimise the opportunity for lives to be lost.
"The section of highway between Red Rock and Coffs Harbour has many substandard intersections and it is my belief that all these intersections, especially those which school buses utilise, should have speed limits reduced immediately."
Woolgoolga Chamber of Commerce president Steve Moody blamed the series of accidents on the slow progress of highway improvements.
"Why is it taking the State Government so long to upgrade the Pacific Highway on the Coffs Coast?" he said.
"The reason is the RTA and the Minister for Roads' refusal to work with local communities over the past five years on a suitable solution in the best interest not only of the local community but also the traveling public along the North Coast of NSW."
The 64-year-old driver of the 4WD vehicle in yesterday's accident has been transferred to Royal North Shore Hospital in a stable condition, while his passenger, a 59-year-old woman, and the survivor from the sedan, were in a stable condition at Coffs Harbour Base Hospital.