Deathtrap: Lives are being put at risk while motorists continue to turn right across oncoming traffic at Sapphire.
Deathtrap: Lives are being put at risk while motorists continue to turn right across oncoming traffic at Sapphire.

Highway turn-offs are deathtraps

JIM Bell reckons he came within centimetres of being involved in a serious car accident on the Pacific Highway.

In terms of near misses, they don’t come much closer than what the 40-year-old Emerald Beach local experienced on Friday morning.

“I was headed north out of Coffs in my van and as I came over the hill near the Sapphire service station I saw two cars sitting in the middle of the road, trying to turn right across both lanes of traffic,” Jim said. “One of the cars was blocking the southbound lane waiting for a break in the traffic to get across.”

“The next thing you know the first car, a small hatchback, floored it and then the second car, a Mitsubishi station wagon, tried to cut in as well.

“I locked it up and veered to the left to avoid a collision, almost ending up down that steep ditch off the side of the road.”

“The scariest thing about it was that as I skidded past the car, I was eyeballing a young child who was a passenger in the car; I just can’t believe the stupidity of the driver.”

Returning to the scene to warn drivers to take care on the highway, he raised a point that many other local drivers have found out by experience.

“The right-hand turn out of the Sapphire service station is a known deathtrap waiting to happen; so too are the Moonee, Emerald and Sandy Beach turn-offs.”

Jim’s observations are right, and are supported by a count of recent accidents on the highway north of Coffs.

While works to upgrade the Pacific Highway to dual carriageway between Sapphire and Woolgoolga are planned, the reality is the project is still five years off completion.

In the meantime, Jim, the token everyday highway traveller, is calling on motorists to be mindful of the intersections. “Had this accident happened, the two cars in front of me, the four wheel drive behind me and the truck behind that, we all would have been involved; some of us mightn’t have been there to tell the story though,” he added.



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