News

Five deaths on our roads since January

TEEN FATALITY: A ‘selfie’ of Jake Collins, from facebook, and, at left, locations of fatal car crashes since the start of 2014.
TEEN FATALITY: A ‘selfie’ of Jake Collins, from facebook, and, at left, locations of fatal car crashes since the start of 2014.

THE TRAGIC death of 19- year-old Jake Collins at Bexhill on Wednesday brings the number of fatalities in the region to five since January 1.

The cause of the deaths appear to be many and varied, but the fact that we have such a high proportion of the state's road fatalities raises concerns and questions about road conditions and driver education, particularly to driving on wet roads.

Inspector Matt Keogh from Richmond Local Area Command said the weather was likely to be a contributing factor in the deaths of both Mr Collins and 20 year-old Taylor Chase, who lost control of her car in heavy rain on Ross Lane, Lennox Head on January 23.

Lads to help before it's too late

Why crashes happen

OPINION: Road safety has improved but more training would help

"I would encourage people to drive to the road conditions and to adapt to the weather conditions," Insp Keogh said.

Peter Owen, 49 of Casino, died in his car after a suspected heart attack on January 18 and police are still awaiting the results of toxicology and blood and alcohol reports in relation to another single car accident at Yorklea on January 26.

Gavin Panaino, 36 of Murwillumbah, crashed his Holden Commodore into a tree on Main Arm Road on January 18, but as there were no witnesses, police are unable identify a cause of the accident.

NRMA president Wendy Machin said 2014 has been a horror start on New South Wales roads with 43 deaths. That's almost double what it was at the same time last year - 22.

"It has been a concerning start to the new year but as to why; I think that mystifies a lot of people," she said.

"Police have been very concerned about the high number of P-Plate offences ... but on the good side there has been a lot of police on the road during the holiday period."

She said there is good evidence to link a higher police presence to a drop in road accidents.

"Speed cameras are good (deterrents), but people get to know where they are and adjust their driving in those areas. With police patrols, you never know where they are going to be."

Rob Wells
Rob Wells Jacklyn Wagner

LADS to help before it's too late

IT'S BEEN over seven years since Rob Wells lost his son Bryce in an horrific accident that claimed four young lives on Broken Head Road.

In 2007 Mr Wells and the parents of the other boys formed Southern Cross LADS (Learn About Driving Skills) and they are in the process of getting planning approval to build a driver education centre at Gundurimba.

Mr Wells said they hope to lodge the construction certificate application with Lismore Council soon and will then launch in earnest the fundraising campaign to make it happen.

"The idea of it is to educate people about these issues; thinking ahead, planning ahead, looking at road situations and making people more aware.

"It's not until they (young people) get out and start making decisions for themselves that it's too late. We need to educate them to give them the skills they need to be safe drivers and safe decision makers.

"If they get it wrong they can cause a lot of damage to themselves and to other road users."

Why crashes happen

ACCORDING to the Department of Roads and Maritime Services, of the 28 road fatalities in the Northern Rivers last year, speed was a factor in 50%, fatigue in 32% and alcohol in 9%.

  • Speed - The risk of a casualty crash approximately doubles with each 5kmh increase on a 60kmh speed-limited road, or with each 10kmh increase on 110kmh roads. A reduction of 5kmh in average travel speed would reduce rural casualty crashes by about 30% and urban crashes by about 25%.
  • Fatigue - Driver fatigue is particularly dangerous because one of the symptoms is a decreased ability to judge your own level of tiredness. Fatigue is more likely to be a factor in crashes in rural areas as they can involve long trips and extensive periods of continuous driving.
  • Alcohol - Drinking alcohol affects driving skills and increases the likelihood of risk-taking behaviour. You don't have to be drunk to be affected by alcohol. You might feel normal, but no one drives as well after drinking alcohol and studies show that a driver's risk of being involved in a casualty crash doubles for every increase of 0.05 above zero BAC.
A table from an Australian Bureau of Statistics report on road fatalities.
A table from an Australian Bureau of Statistics report on road fatalities.

OPINION: Road safety has improved but more training would help

ROAD safety in Australia has improved drastically over the past few decades.

Back in 1970 a total 3798 people were killed on Australian roads, which would have worked out at more than 25 deaths per 100,000 people across the nation.

By comparison, last year a total 1193 people died on Australian roads, or 5.16 people per 100,000.

Obviously, there have been significant improvements in road safety on the Northern Rivers as well, but this region remains far more dangerous to drive in than the above figures suggest.

At a rough estimate, there were something like 27 deaths on Northern Rivers roads last year. Taken across the 277,000-strong population between the Clarence Valley and the border, that translates as a death rate of 9.7 people per 100,000 Northern Rivers residents - far above the national averages.

Our winding country roads play a role in this, so too does the lack of public transport. Neither of those issues offer themselves to easy solutions, leaving driver training as the third area where the Northern Rivers can improve safety.

This is being addressed through the efforts of groups such as Southern Cross LADS, which is setting up an advanced driver training centre.

PCYC Lismore and Grafton have also been funded to run a safer drivers course for L-platers. This course is expected to reach about 40 centres in NSW and has the backing of Roads and Maritime Service.

Perhaps such training is something that would benefit all Northern Rivers drivers.

- Alex Easton



Spicer discusses impact of discrimination

AUTHOR: Tracey Spicer.

Tracey Spicer to speak in Lismore

Assault charges after man spits at security guard

Police in Coffs harbour

Photo: Trevor Veale / The Coffs Coast Advocate

A Killcare Heights man has been arrested at Brunswick

VIDEO: Serious crash at Halfway Creek

Several motorbikes were knocked over in a serious accident on the Pacific Hwy at Halfway Creek.

Westpac chopper called in after Pacific Hwy accident.

Local Partners

Spicer discusses impact of discrimination

TRACEY Spicer has anchored national news, current affairs and lifestyle programs for several TV networks, and talkback radio. Now she's coming to Lismore.

Shot at the live shows slips through Sally's fingers

Sally Skelton and Bojesse Pigram pictured after their battle performance on The Voice.

Sunshine Coast singer's dramatic elimination from The Voice

Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor split after 17 years

They were married in May 2000 and have two children, who they said will remain their priority.

Ben Stiller and his wife Christine Taylor have called it a day

Why The Voice hasn't produced a star

Boy George responds to Brittania Clifford-Pugh's heart-warming message.

It's the industry, not the show, says Boy George

These actors hated their movies and didn’t mind admitting it

Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans in a scene from GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Every year, Hollywood blesses us with plenty of God awful movies.

Miranda Kerr and fiance hang up backyard tent for wedding

The decorators and caterers are arriving for the final preparations for the wedding of Miranda Kerr and Evan Spiegel. Pictures: Splash

Evan Spiegel and Miranda Kerr are set to marry today

Book review: Mia Freedman's book meets her critics head on

I appreciated Freedman's blunt honesty in the book

Man's amazing comeback from monster crisis

Pat O'Driscoll agents Penny Keating and Doug Webber sold 56 Agnes St, The Range at auction over the weekend.

NOT long ago, he sold his possessions to pay staff. Now he's back.

Here's your chance to carp about feral pests

Carp might by great fun to catch but they're destroying Australia's watercourses.

Science in the Pub looks at carp and coral trees

SNEAK PEEK: What new shopping centre is going to look like

Artist impression of the proposed redevelopment of the cinema and shopping complex on Jonson St, Byron Bay.

Mercato billed as regional NSW's most sustainable shopping complex

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

Slaves in Byron: The dark side of housing crisis

Housing generic.

A darker side to Byron's economy

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!