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Driver wants B-double ban on single lane of highways

ABOVE LEFT: John May, pictured in 2011 near the speed camera at Urunga. At that time he was upset about the camera being taken away.
ABOVE LEFT: John May, pictured in 2011 near the speed camera at Urunga. At that time he was upset about the camera being taken away. Bruce Thomas

WHEN John May saw the devastation of Saturday's horrific Pacific Highway double fatality north of Woodburn, memories of his own near miss on the same dangerous stretch of road came flooding back.

The Urunga local, who has done thousands of kilometres on the highway, said his experience was one of many near misses involving B-double trucks, which he claims shouldn't be allowed on single carriageway sections of the highway.

"In 2009, it was raining and we were in a Ford Econovan and as we hit the overtaking lane there was a B-double doing about 40 or 50 k's so I just thought I'd go around him," he said.

"So I was doing about 90km/h and just driving around him, then all of a sudden I realised I wasn't getting around him, we were neck and neck, as he was accelerating.

"He was right beside us with his driver's side window down, with his arm out the window leaning on the sill as pushed the truck into our lane and pushed us over onto the incoming lane and into the path of an oncoming semi trailer."

As his life flashed before his eyes, Mr May said he floored the Econovan to almost 120kmh, enough to just squeeze past the B-double before colliding with the semi.

Mr May's memories echo those of Woodburn man Bob Cummings, who was first on the scene in 2008 at a fatal crash on the same bend as last Saturday's smash, involving a cane truck and a Commodore sedan.

"I stopped across the road from the car and jumped out and looked into the window," he said. "I wish I hadn't - it was so smashed up. I knew he was dead." A 24-year-old Queensland man died in the crash.

As Richmond River Express Examiner editor Samantha Elley walked to the crash scene on Saturday, a cross bearing Mick Steward's name caught her eye, and memories of another life lost flooded back.

"I remember reporting on that crash a few years ago on exactly the same bend," she said.

Mr May said banning B-doubles from single carriageway sections of the highway would reduce fatalities.

Roads cash

MORE than $21 million will be given to Page's five councils under the Government's Roads to Recovery Program that passed through Parliament this week.

Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan said the legislation should enable councils to get on with the roadwork needed in local communities.

"I'm glad that after the hold-up, we can now provide this crucial funding for councils to improve our local roads," Mr Hogan said.

In the last five years the program has given Ballina Shire Council $2.8 million, Clarence Valley $7.3 million, Kyogle Council $3.7 million, Lismore City $4.5 million and Richmond Valley $3.4 million.

Topics:  ban, b-double, driving, editors picks




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