The temporary road works at Mt Ossa to expand the Bruce Highway.
The temporary road works at Mt Ossa to expand the Bruce Highway. Jarred Sferruzzi

Bruce Hwy worker: Reckless drivers nearly kill us every day

DRIVERS along the Bruce Hwy are speeding through roadworks north of Mackay, with 11 people caught over the limit during the past week.

Six drivers were issued with speeding fines in construction areas between Kuttabul and Calen, while another five were fined outside of roadwork areas along the same stretch of road.

Police and road safety advocates are calling for people to slow down and be aware of speed limits as upgrades along the highway continue.

"We find people have problems getting down to the 60km speed limit," Inspector Steve Oconnell, with Queensland Police, said.

"They definitely drop down from the 100km limit, but still stay above the limits set in those areas with road works. These limits are set for the safety of the road workers and those travelling along the highway."

The chairman of the Road Accident Action Group, Chris Bonanno, said he was disappointed so many drivers were speeding through the roadworks.

He said getting the highway upgrade had taken a long time and involved "a lot of work by lots of different groups and people".

"People should be obeying road rules no matter what the conditions are," he said. "The rules and regulations are there for a reason, for safety. Driving behaviour is a big part of what RAAG does and we always tell people to drive to the circumstances around them."

Inspector Oconnell said one message he always had for the public was to remember the Fatal Five from the road safety campaign and to drive to road conditions.

'Reckless drivers putting others at risk'

ROAD workers helping to upgrade the Bruce Hwy say reckless drivers put their lives at risk every day.

Doval Construction worker Darren Goodhuw operates road rollers and also does traffic control close to Calen, about 50km north of Mackay.

The Bloomsbury resident, who has been working along the highway since the upgrade in this region began, said he was frustrated by the number of vehicles speeding during the construction phase and by the response of drivers.

"Speeders are the biggest issue we're having along the Bruce Hwy at the moment," Mr Goodhuw said.

"It doesn't matter what the sign says, people still go at whatever speed they want.

"The cars are pretty bad, but the trucks are even scarier.

"It's just pretty reckless."

Sergeant Zane Male, of Calen police station, said speed limits were not there "just for fun" but were for everyone's protection.

"I personally have issued fines to people for speeding through areas with roadworks," Sgt Male said.

"I regularly patrol this section of the highway, roadworks or otherwise.

"Speed limits are there for the safety of everyone, including the workers.

"If there's a sudden accident, the lower speed limit means drivers are able to respond quicker and reduce the chances of any fatalities."

There are four separate construction areas between Mackay and Calen with road workers active in all sections.

Mr Goodhuw said while he was not "too worried" about himself when operating the road roller, he is concerned about his fellow workers who are more exposed.

"It's a bit of a worry because even though we're right next to the road, people still speed through," he said.

"The local police are pretty good at keeping an eye on us, but they can't catch everyone.

"People don't understand that when things go wrong, they can go wrong quickly.

"I've been lucky so far," he said.

"But I don't know what I'd do if anything happened to myself or my mates."

 

Temporary road works at Hampden slow down traffic along the Bruce Highway.
Temporary road works at Hampden slow down traffic along the Bruce Highway. Jarred Sferruzzi

'It's about time'

KUTTABUL Hotel regular "Uncle Bill" says it's "bout f**king time" the State Government decided to upgrade sections of the Bruce Hwy north of Mackay.

As a regular to the country pub, Bill knows well the conditions of roads in the region and he says they have been neglected for some time.

"All the money from mining in the area gets sucked into Brisbane," he said.

"But after it goes down south, not nearly as much comes back up this way.

"If it did, this highway would've been fixed years ago."

While he is critical of how the highway is being managed, he said people should not be blaming the road when bad driving habits were a large contributing factor to crashes.

Bill said the various roadworks along small sections of the highway were "kind of" annoying but the long-term benefits were worth the delays.

"They're just fixing up what they can," he said.

"Anything that improves this highway is worth it."



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