Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Rushing Home a Deadly Habit

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Rushing Home a Deadly Habit

Article excerpt

THE last thing you feel like doing at the end of a block of exhausting 12.5-hours shifts is to drive a couple of hundred kilometres.

But there are many miners who do just that, and more.

It's a deadly habit, which not only risks their lives but also the lives of anyone else on the road at the time.

Anxious to get home to their loved ones and not waste a minute of that precious time off, lots of miners are regularly jumping into their vehicles immediately at the end of the last night shift and heading for home.

Some drive for just a few hours, while others who live further afield can take up to 12 hours, or more.

The crash and fatality signs littered along the shoulders of the Peak Downs Hwy at times are testament to the fact that this is an extremely dangerous, even fatal, practice.

As the Daily Mercury recently reported, the Peak Downs Hwy is one of the world's most dangerous highways. In the past five years 14 people have been killed and 71 injured. There have been 550 accidents in the last decade. I wonder how many near-misses there have been; miners whose lives have been spared by the blink of an eyelid.

A group of community-minded road safety campaigners are banging their heads together to conceive ways of making the Peak Downs Hwy fatality-free by the year 2020.

A meeting organised by the group to discuss ideas and brainstorm possibilities was ignored by Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Anthony Albanese. He was in Adelaide at the time but didn't even bother to send a stand-in. That shows the priority the safety of those using the nightmare strip known as the Peak Downs Hwy has on his list.

If you've driven along this strip recently you'll know how much traffic has increased. And it's going to get worse, much worse.

The first safety measure that needs to be addressed is the thinking of those who drive the highway while fatigued. …

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