MORE than two decades ago, Dr Ray Jones attended the infamous Cowper bus crash as a medical officer. That significantly traumatising experience has led him to campaign for the Pacific Highway north of Kempsey to be upgraded, and sooner rather than later.
A group of 65 doctors from the Coffs Harbour, Nambucca, Bellingen, Macksville and Clarence Valley regions, known as Doctors for a Safe Pacific Highway, will stage a public meeting this Saturday evening in Coffs Harbour to bring attention to the issues surrounding the notorious stretch of the Pacific Highway.
“I personally was traumatised for about 10 years by what I experienced at the Cowper bus crash, however, I wasn’t the only one,” Dr Jones said.
“There were members of the Ambulance service, the Police, the SES (State Emergency Service) and other medical practitioners that went through the same thing.
“What we are trying to do is to stop another tragedy like that from occurring.
“In the last 10 years, only 18 kilometres of the highway north of Kempsey has been upgraded and that really is not good enough.
“The bottom line is that the highway between Sydney and Melbourne is fine, whereas the Pacific Highway between Sydney and Brisbane is still well below what is considered safe.
“Where there is dual carriageway there are still accidents, however, they rarely result in death as head-ons just don’t happen with the frequency they do around here.”
The meeting will try to gauge the public sentiment in relation to the highway, and if it is great enough, the Doctors for a Safe Pacific Highway will organise more events to draw political attention to the urgency of a highway upgrade.
“This is a meeting for the people of the region who use the Pacific Highway, and will not be boring in the slightest,” Dr Jones said.
“We are hoping to get discussion going on the concerns of the public and ways which we can go about improving the highway.”
The public meeting will be held at the Coffs Harbour Educational Campus this Saturday evening from 7pm in the lower lecture theatre.