Another week, another fatality on our roads.
The fatal crash on the Princes Highway on Thursday, April 27, was yet another reminder of a wish list unfulfilled.
In November 2014, the NRMA visited to the Eurobodalla and told the Bay Post what motorists wanted for Christmas. High on that list was a divided dual carriageway all the way to the Victorian border. The association cited research showing wire dividers saved lives.
Thursday’s death, south of the Tuross Head turn-off, is a tragic reason to revisit this conversation.
In 2014, an NRMA review compared the data from the previous five years, assessing 428km of the highway from Dapto to the Victorian border.
The review told a tale of two roads, with almost 300 km of the Highway south of Jervis Bay Road – including several stretches in the Eurobodalla – classed as high risk.
At the time, the NRMA’s then South Coast director Alan Evans and roads engineer Mark Wolstenholme said they would settle for 300km of three lanes and rope safety barriers.
The pair said those interim measures would lower the “high-risk” of travelling on 15 stretches of the highway.
The stretches from Batemans Bay to Burrill Lake, the “mad mile” from Batemans Bay to Mogo and from Bodalla to north Narooma were identified in the audit as among the worst sections.
However, they said inexpensive rope barriers could quickly lower the risk to motorists.
“We are still seeing deaths and injury crashes at an unacceptable rate,” Mr Evans said in 2014.
“In the interim, there are steps we can take, including widening the highway to three lanes and alternating in each direction so there are opportunities to pass.
“Wire rope barriers are an inexpensive means of attacking some of the more high-risk areas.
“They work. They absorb the vehicle’s mass, they don’t throw it back on the highway and your chances of being killed or injured are reduced markedly.”
Mr Evans said the jury was no longer out on safer roads.
“The report shows when you build safer roads you get this quite amazing statistic: a reduction in injury crashes of 90 per cent,” he said.
“There is 300km of road we regard as high risk, from Nowra to the border.
“There are a couple of spots which are getting some attention, Dignam’s Creek for example, but we still major problems.
“Given is the backbone, the life blood of the South Coast, we have to ensure it is not only a useful road, but a safe road.”