MP calls for federal review into highway safety after crash

UPDATE 1.10PM WEDNESDAY: MEMBER for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien has called for an urgent and immediate safety review of entrances and exits at the new Gunalda United Service Station on the Bruce Highway.

Mr O'Brien wrote to Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester to call for the review, following a fatal crash there on March 31, 2017.

"The safety, accessibility and visibility of the intersection must be assessed as a matter of urgency to prevent any further tragedies like this one," Mr O'Brien said.

"I will also call on State and Federal Governments to make funding immediately available for any upgrades needed following the review."

Mr O'Brien has investigated numerous crashes on the Bruce Highway near Gympie during his time as a police officer, and said some of these accidents occurred under markedly similar circumstances to the Gunalda accident, including other fatalities.

In 2010, a 19-year-old P-plate driver was killed in a collision with a B-double truck as he attempted to turn right into the south-bound lane of the Bruce Highway from the Kybong Matilda (now Puma) service station.

Several years before that, the speed limit was reduced to 80kmh after a council worker was killed at the same spot while riding his motorbike to work.

Safety upgrades were also needed at the Golden Nugget service station at Gympie following a series of serious and fatal accidents there.

Between 2000 and 2010, there were 82 serious crashes on this section of the Bruce Highway, including seven fatalities. The tragedies prompted the fast-tracking of upgrades to the Keefton Road intersection and access arrangements at the Golden Nugget service station. 

"There have been upgrades to the highway outside both the Kybong and Golden Nugget service stations following those crashes, but neither I nor the community want to see a repeat of these tragedies at Gunalda," Mr O'Brien said.

"One crash there is too many, and we need an immediate and comprehensive safety review carried out to ensure the safety of road users."

TUESDAY: THE Department of Transport and Main Roads says it will conduct an investigation of the exit from a Gunalda service station, where a Glenwood woman was killed in a tragic crash on Friday.

Investigations are continuing into the cause of the crash, but it is believed the 75-year-old woman was exiting the United Petroleum Service Centre about 3.50pm when her car collided with a four-wheel-drive that was driving on the Bruce Hwy.

The service centre opened in December last year south of Tiaro, directly off the main highway.

As a result of the tragic crash, a TMR spokesperson told the Chronicle the department was working with police to investigate the crash, "while also carrying out an independent departmental investigation".

"It is a standard departmental procedure to investigate all fatalities on the state road network," the spokesperson said.

"We will consider factors such as road design and visibility, while police will look at road factors along with broader issues including driver behaviour."

The spokesperson said if the investigation found any road factors were involved, the department would "act to address" the issues.

The spokesperson also said all motorists were urged to drive to conditions, obey signage and posted speed limits at all times; a message also given by Regional Queensland Road Policing Operations Inspector Peter Flanders.

When the Chronicle spoke to Insp Flanders on Sunday, the officer said driver behaviour was the main cause of crashes on Queensland roads.

"The fatal five are the majority of causes for fatal crashes," Insp Flanders said.

"All those can be prevented if when people get behind the wheel, their number one task is to drive."

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