Ballina Grey Nomads Keith and Robbie Peagam.
Ballina Grey Nomads Keith and Robbie Peagam. Ashley Pillhofer

Roadside stops on Bruce Highway still inadequate

MAKING their way through Queensland from northern New South Wales, Keith and Robbie Peagam are two members of the Grey Nomad community that is tens of thousands strong.

The pair, who are currently staying at the Andergrove Van Park, said they were taken aback by the vast amounts of roadside memorials that line the region's roads.

"We went as far as Weipia," Mrs Peagam said. "What we noticed was that where there have been a lot of deaths, in those areas there are no rest stops."

The two interstate travellers have drawn the same correlation between a lack of rest stop facilities and road accidents as Whitsunday State MP Jason Costigan.

Mr Costigan has been a vocal advocate for rest stops on the Bruce Highway.

Earlier this month, following the tragic 24-hour period in which four lives were lost on the highway he submitted a Question on Notice to the State Government asking again when and if a roadside rest area will ever be developed.

"Fatigue management on our roads is something I am passionate about," he said.

"I know that highway very well and ... I've see some crazy things on it, like everyone else.

Mr Costigan said he did not know exactly what needed to be done to improve conditions on the road, but said his first priority was Bloomsbury. "How long is a piece of sting," he said. "For starters we need a conversation about a roadside rest area near Bloomsbury.

"It would be something similar to what we have already halfway between Mackay and Rocky."

Crashes caused by driver fatigue accounted for 21 per cent of accidents on the Bruce Highway in the stretch between Rockhampton and Townsville in the period from January 2017 to February 2018.

This makes fatigue the second biggest killer on our roads behind distracted or inattentive drivers.

Mr Peagam said Grey Nomads were starting to abandon the Bruce Highway route and travel further inland instead.

"There are not a lot of rest stops along the way (on the Bruce Highway). A lot of people are going inland because of this," he said. "As you get older you do need to stop more often between distances... there does need to be places to stop."

Mrs Peagam added to this, saying that with so many people using the roads, the lack of rest facilities sent the wrong message to drivers. "With all the new freeways that bypass the little towns, it does not encourage people to stop and to have that break," she said.

Mr Costigan said because travelling long stretches on the highway was normal for Queenslanders in this region, roadside rest stops should be a priority.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport and Main Roads said it was committed to reducing the burden of road trauma on communities.

"Nothing is more important than the safety of the people who travel on the state's vast road network," the spokesperson said.

"All motorists need to be aware of the Fatal Five and take them seriously: drink driving and drug driving, fatigue, inattention, not using a seat belt and speeding."

We all have a role to play in road safety and motorists are reminded to stick to the speed limits, abide by the road rules and drive to the conditions.

Despite lobbying on the issue for more than two years, Mr Costigan said he would "not hold his breath" waiting for a roadside rest stop at Bloomsbury.

WHERE TO STOP OR CAMP IN THE MACKAY REGION

TOURISTS and locals travelling the Bruce Highway can stop and take a break at these locations to stay safe while on the roads.

FREE CAMP LOCATIONS:

The Leap Hotel at 1959 Bruce Hwy, The Leap.

Gargett Rodeo Grounds at Lot 7 Gargett-Mia Mia Road, Gargett.

Rocky Dam Creek at Boatramp, Bosanquet St, Koumala.

Denison Creek at Oxford Downs, Sarina Rd, Oxford.

Funnel Creek on the Marlborough-Sarina Road.

Tooloomba Road House at Saint Lawrence Rd, (Bruce Hwy), Ogmore.

Twin Bridges on the Lotus Creek Isaacs Road, Lotus Creek.

Lake Elphinstone Lot 16 Suttor Developmental Road, Elphinstone.

REST STOP LOCATIONS:

Palm Tree Creek Rest Area, no overnight stays at Kuttabul.

Bowen Driver Reviver with no overnight stays at Bowen Big Mango.

Waverley Creek Rest Area with 20-hour maximum stay limit at St Lawrence.

Home Hill Comfort Stop Rest Area with maximum stay of 48 hours with no tents allowed at Home Hill.



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