REVEALED: We're home to 2 of 10 worst highway sections
PACIFIC Hwy crash deaths are declining but two Northern Rivers sections have still made it on to the list of the state's 10 worst roads.
The Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP) report released today showed the highway from Ballina to Byron Bay and Byron Bay to Yelgun were ranked fourth and seventh worse respectively.
The report looked at data such as average vehicles per day, casualty crashes and deaths on highways between 2010 and 2014.
It shows casualty crashes on the Pacific Hwy from Byron to Yelgun fell from 64 (2005-2009) to 40 (2010-2014), while the Ballina to Byron section fell from 132 to 92 for the same periods.
NRMA local director Wendy Machin believes these declines will continue.
"The progress made in making the highway safer is reflected in the latest AusRAP report, which doesn't include upgrades to the highway since 2014," she said.
"As the final stages of the highway are completed we would expect that the Pacific Highway will, for the first time ever, only be mentioned among the top 10 best performing highways."
She acknowledged the highway upgrades were overdue by almost 30 years.
"It's a highway that was the subject of a coroner's inquiry almost 30 years ago now, and at that time it said the road needed to be duplicated within 10 years, so it's taken nearly three times as long," Ms Machin said.
"The sad thing is people have died on that road in the interim."
The incident Ms Machin was referring to was the Kempsey bus crash on December 22, 1989, when two tourist coaches collided on the Pacific Hwy at Clybucca Flat.
When asked what made highways "outdated", Ms Machin said there were a lot of factors involved.
"Looking back at 1989, it was largely single lane, very few overtaking opportunities, quite narrow and quite windy," she said.
"That's very different now.
"We've seen in this report ... the raised standard of the road and along with that the reduction of death and injuries."
She said another factor was the age of the road surface itself.
"The older the road, the more the surface breaks down," Ms Machin said.
"On the North Coast there's high rainfall - big downpours - it really rocks the roads around.
"There's not a lot you can do about that but building good roads with good drainage will help."
Ms Machin said it was important to not only build a well-designed road, but to maintain it.
The 2013 AusRAP report revealed in its 20-year Safer Roads Investment Plans Summary that state highway upgrades would cost $1.96 billion and prevent an estimated 15,700 fatalities and serious injuries.