MP calls for highway ban on B-doubles

By Dawn Cohen

Ballina MP Don Page called for a ban on B-double trucks on the Pacific Highway, after a prime-mover ploughed through a Ballina house, on Wednesday.

"It's the latest example of the dangers of mixing B-doubles with local traffic," Mr Page said.

A 28-year-old Sydney man ignored a give-way sign at the intersection of Bentinck Street and Kerr Street at 4.15 am on Wednesday morning.

His Toyota Highlux four-wheel drive smashed into a B-double truck, causing the prime mover to jack-knife through the patio of a Kerr Street residence.

Home owner Victor Record and his great-niece Rachel Adams narrowly escaped injury. Both drivers were also unhurt.

"The New England Highway has been identified as the national highway linking Brisbane and Sydney," Mr Page said.

"It should be the New England Highway that carries the B-doubles. The Pacific Highway should be a regional and inter-regional road.

"B-double trucks constitute 14 per cent of vehicles on the Pacific Highway.

"But they are involved in 33 per cent of fatalities.

"It is not always the truck driver's fault, but when you have heavy vehicles you often have fatalities."

The Ballina Bypass was also an urgent priority, Mr Page said.

Ballina deputy mayor John Felsch supported Mr Page's call for B-double trucks to be re-routed onto the New England Highway and for the Ballina Bypass.

"They have to find a way around Ballina," said Cr Felsch from Tasmania, where he was holidaying.

" What do we have to do to motivate Mr Costa?

"He has got to wake up and find the money for the by-pass immediately."

The Pacific Highway has been a popular route for Bdouble trucks since the completion of the dual-carriageway Chinderah-Yelgun section two years ago.

Byron Bay councillors are seeking united action against the B-doubles, inviting councils from Newcastle to the Queensland border for a summit in August to formulate a strategy for ridding the coast of the large vehicles.

Ernie Bennett, president of the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils said he would attend the summit, but he would not support a ban on B-doubles using the Pacific Highway.

"It would be nice to have no trucks, but costs would go up," he said.

"The solution lies in making the Pacific Highway a safe dual carriageway, and building the by-passes."

Cr Bennett draws the line, however, at future B-triples, which some commentators believe will take to the Pacific Highway once it is dual carriageway.

"I wouldn't like to see them on the Pacific Highway. There is already enough traffic," he said.

Trucking industry leaders, attending a national conference in Newcastle, were not available for comment.

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