Call for more safety bays

By Andy Parks

THE NRMA is calling on the State and Federal governments to build dedicated safety bays at regular intervals on the Pacific Highway to improve road safety.

Safety bays would allow police to monitor motorists' behaviour and would go a long way towards making roads safer, according to NRMA president Alan Evans.

Safety bays are areas set aside next to the highway protected from the traffic by crash barriers. They are becoming increasingly common in Queensland and could be easily implemented along the Pacific Highway, according to NRMA director Wendy Machin. She estimates the cost of installing a safety bay at $1000.

"A more visible police presence changes driver behaviour," Mrs Machin said.

The NRMA has been campaigning for a more visible police presence on NSW roads for some time as a speed deterrent and to discourage other illegal activities.

Mrs Machin and Mr Evans are looking at appropriate locations for safety bays during a three-day trip along the length of the Pacific Highway as part of an NRMA's campaign to improve road safety.Ballina mayor Phillip Silver, who is deputy chair of the Pacific Highway Taskforce, supports the need for a higher police presence on the highway and says speed and fatigue are the biggest issues confronting drivers.

"As the highway is being upgraded and better engineered, drivers find that 110 (kilometres per hour) can creep up on them," Cr Silver said.

"Modern cars can easily do speeds of 130 or 140km/h, and a high police presence would help curb that."

Cr Silver said being pulled over by a patrol car had more impact on a driver's behaviour than receiving a speeding fine in the mail many weeks later.

Cr Silver also called for more rest areas for drivers as highway upgrades were rolled out.

"There is an expectation by drivers to be able to drive further distances these days. If there are no rest areas people feel they have to press on, even if they are tired," he said.

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