Great Western Highway set to be a Trucking F3

Yet another Dangerous Trucking Menace along the Great Western Highway – last week
[Source:  ‘Firies save “catastrophic” incident after truck catches fire at Faulconbridge’, 20130222, Blue Mountains Gazette, Photo: Top Notch Video
^http://www.bluemountainsgazette.com.au/story/1320007/firies-save-catastrophic-incident-after-truck-catches-fire-at-faulconbrige/]

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The Dangerous Trucking Menace is becoming increasingly prevalent across the Blue Mountains on both the Great Western Highway and the Bells Line of Road.

This is because the ‘Roads and Traffic Authority‘ – rebranded but culturally unchanged to the ‘Transport Roads and Maritime Services‘ is tasked to re-engineer the Great Western Highway, a regional and local road, to facilitate more trucks.

The trucking mandate is to transform the highway into an expressway designed for bigger and faster trucks, just like the F3 Motorway between outer Sydney and the regional city of Newcastle, as infamously deadly that the F3 is.

The trucking mandate is national and driven by an Australia-wide freight transport policy which prioritises 95% road and 5% rail.  The truck-centric policy is steered by self-interested influential trucking magnates and their industry, whose driving catch-phrase is ‘time is money‘ and so any community along the highway that slows their trucks down must be dealt with.     They fund political economic rationalism which prefers to outsource and privatise instead of responsibly investing in national rail freight infrastructure.

Highway communities are treated as second class citizens.   Residents like the many thousands across the Blue Mountains are increasing exposed to the Dangerous Trucking Menace, when sharing the highway and from their homes:

  • Bigger trucks and more B-Doubles
  • Speeding trucks
  • Tailgating trucks
  • Trucks over the centre double lines
  • Truck drivers frequently seen talking on a mobile phone while driving
  • Exhaust brakes used at all hours through towns and villages
  • Collisions and deaths
  • Overturned trucks
  • Broken down trucks
  • Trucks on fire
  • Truck tankers with gas, fuel or hazardous chemical leaks
  • Selfish truckies sleeping outside residents at all hours with refrigerator motors running at Mt Victoria
  • Same selfish truckies found urinating and defecating in residents’ front verges at Mt Victoria.

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[Ed:  And truckies and their supporting wives wonder why truckies have a bad reputation and often cop blame?  Trucking is not a profession.  It is a uncontrolled cowboy skill-easy job earning pittance, attracting imbeciles and causing reckless maiming and death. This Editor has continued to hold an ‘HC’ licence from 1989, but income-wise has long since moved on.]

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Source:  Blackheath Highway Action Group
‘The Blackheath Highway Action group was formed in 2008 to fight a proposal to turn the Great Western Highway
into a 4 lane high productivity freight vehicle (25/26/30m B-doubles) route across the Blue Mountains.
Website: ^http://www.bag.asn.au

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Hardly a week passes without some report of a truck-related incident along the Great Western Highway and especially along the Hume Freeway, F3 Motorway and Pacific Highway, and that is just in New South Wales.  One local resident of the Blue Mountains, a Marcus Padley, terms these ‘Mack Truck Moments‘.  If only it were funny.  Last month Sarina Heta in her Kia Rio sedan wasn’t laughing when she was violently crushed between two B-doubles on the Great Western highway at Blackheath.

Australia has no central register of truck incidents, but if it did one wagers that the occurrence would be a daily one.  This is unacceptable yet the trucking menace is encouraged and poorly controlled or policed.

Currently, the Great Western Highway is being widened to four lanes at Hazelbrook at great expense and considerable delay due to poor due diligence and mismanagement.  In the re-engineered design, all interests of trucks are priorities by the road engineers, while local residents have little or no say.  As each stage of widening transformation takes place, successive affected communities become disheartened and confronted by the bulldozing of the regional highway and its replacement with a much wider trucking expressway.

Lawson has been completely obliterated and its character ‘lobotomised‘ as a town.

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Lawson
before the Trucking Expressway bulldozers

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Neo-Lawson
Shops bulldozed
Village Character urban lobotomised

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Soon it will be neighbouring Bullaburra’s turn and highway properties are already up for sale.

Bullaburra:   On Trucking Death Row

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The Bells Line of Road across the Blue Mountains is also having its side shoulders widened to accommodate B-double trucks 24/7 and is involving the destruction of native vegetation for kilometres.  Stage 1 is around the agricultural village of Bilpin.

Many sand and gravel B-Double style trucks use the Bells Line of Road between quarries and Sydney.  They are paid a trip rate and so travel at excessive speed to maximise trips per day.  The road has no speed cameras and is rarely patrolled by police.  It has become an infamous trucking cowboy route.  In June 2012, a sand loaded semi-trailer collided with two cars near Mt Tomah.  The truck was probably over the centre double lines like they usually are.

Semi-trailer cowboy carrying sand and speeding, 4km west of Mount Tomah, June 2012
It rolled, spilling its load across the Bells Line of Road
[Source:  ^http://www.cowracommunitynews.com/viewnews.php?newsid=834&id=3]

 

In May 2011, a gravel truck overturned on the Bells Line of Road while exceeding the speed limit.  The road is a renowned trucking menace and car drivers and motorbike riders use it at their own risk.   In July 2009, a motorcyclist has been killed on the Bells Line of Road 10 kilometres west of the Mount Tomah.  It must have surely been a ‘Mack Truck Moment.

 

B-Double Rollover on the Bells Line of Road (Nov 2010)
“West Sector Brigades are frequently called to accidents on the Bells Line of Road and Darling Causeway”.
[Source: Rural Fire Service, ^http://www.bluemountains.rfs.nsw.gov.au/dsp_content.cfm?cat_id=129643]

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The government’s Trucking Expressway Mandate is to keep widening the Great Western Highway out to mainly four lanes between outer Sydney where the 6-lane M4 Motorway currently links to, and all the way out to Orange and beyond.  The long-term trucking strategy to eventually encourage 24/7 trucking of B-doubles between Sydney and Perth and Darwin.  In western Victoria even B-triples have been introduced, which are basically Road Trains – give the trucking lobby time.

B-doubles have to date been prohibited from the Great Western Highway due to its narrow unsuitable design and to respect the fact that it passes through nearly two dozen regional town and villages.    But that is constantly being challenged and undermined by hard-nosed government policy.

The dangerous misguided premise by the policy and by road engineers is that a wider a faster trucking expressway will be safer than the existing highway, yet the evidence refutes that.  All one needs to do is consider the repeated statistical record of trucks incidents along the already widened sections of the Great Western highway, and indeed along the RTA/RMS’s favourite creation, its F3 Motorway.

The following recent reports of trucking incidents are testament to the trucking menace that trucking expressways attract.

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2nd March 2013:   ‘Overturned Truck Closes F3 at Mount White’

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<<Mount White: The F3 remains closed northbound approaching the Old Pacific Highway Overpass in Mount White due to a truck accident.  Motorists are being diverted off the F3 onto the Old Pacific Highway at the Hawkesbury Interchange in Mooney Mooney.  Emergency services and RMS crews are on site, working to clear the accident as quickly as possible…>

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[Source:  ^http://www.facebook.com/livetrafficnsw/posts/451301384941574]

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27 Feb 2013:  ‘Lanes reopen on F3 after gas leak’

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<<All southbound and northbound lanes have reopened on the F3 near Motorway Link Road in Warnervale now that gas bottles are no longer leaking on the back of a truck.  Gas cylinders began leaking on the back of a truck near Motorway Link Road about 6.45pm, forcing the closure of southbound lanes and one northbound lane.>>

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[Source:  ‘Lanes reopen on F3 after gas leak’, 20130227, by Sam Rigney, The Newcastle Herald, ^http://www.theherald.com.au/story/1330772/lanes-reopen-on-f3-after-gas-leak/?cs=305]

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20 Feb 2013:  ‘F3 Truck Fire’

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<<There was a lucky escape for a truck driver on the Central Coast yesterday.  Just after 11am, a Rutherford-bound semi trailer full of clay caught fire, forcing the closure of northbound lanes of the F3 Freeway at Mount White.  The driver, from Victoria, had pulled the rig over after seeing smoke billowing from the engine.  He escaped unharmed but the same couldn’t be said for the prime mover.>>

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[Source:  ‘F3 Truck Fire’, 20130220, ^http://www.nbnnews.com.au/index.php/2013/02/20/f3-truck-fire-2/]

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7 Feb 2013:  ‘Hume Highway traffic affected after truck roll over’

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<<Both northbound lanes of the Hume Highway were closed south of Tarcutta following the accident but one northbound lane was since been re-opened.  The accident about 15km south of Tarcutta occurred shortly after 9am this morning.   Emergency services are in attendance and a HAZMAT team has been sent following reports of diesel over the road.  Motorists are advised to drive with caution if in the area and to allow for extra time on their journey.>>

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[Source:  ‘Hume Highway traffic affected after truck roll over’, 20130207, ^http://www.dailyadvertiser.com.au/story/1285399/hume-highway-traffic-affected-after-truck-roll-over/]

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Nov 2012:  ‘Traffic slow at Ourimbah following truck rollover’

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<<Traffic is slowing on the F3 Freeway near Ourimbah on the Central Coast where a semi-trailer rolled onto its side about 9.30am.  It is understood the driver was trapped for a short time but has since been freed and police are on-site managing the clean up and traffic control.>>

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[Source: ‘Traffic slow at Ourimbah following truck rollover’, 20121108, by Gabriel Wingate-Pearse, The Newcastle Herald, ^http://www.theherald.com.au/story/786786/traffic-slow-at-ourimbah-following-truck-rollover/]

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Mar 2012:  ‘Police target second trucking firm over safety’

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<<New South Wales police are targeting another truck company over suspected serious safety breaches.  Trucks from the South Australian-based Scott’s transport are being stopped at several heavy vehicle checking stations, including the F3 freeway at Mount White and the Hume Highway at Marulan.  Officials from Roads and Maritime Services are also involved in the operation.

Police say one of the company’s B-double trucks was caught driving on the Hume Highway at Mittagong at 142 kilometres per hour early on Monday morning.  Officers are searching for 32 Scott’s trucks out of the company’s fleet of more than 300, and say that number may rise.  They say the trucks will then undergo a comprehensive mechanical inspection.  The investigation follows an operation against Sydney-based Lennons Transport Services, where police say speed limiting devices in numerous trucks had been tampered with.

A Lennons driver is before the courts charged over a crash that killed three people on the Hume Highway at Menangle in January.>>

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[Source:  ‘Police target second trucking firm over safety’, 20120308, ABC News, ^http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-03-07/police-target-second-trucking-firm-over-safety/3874324]

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Jul 2011:  ‘Delays on freeway after truck rollover’

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<<NSW motorists on the F3 freeway are being warned to expect significant delays after a B-double truck rolled over at Cooranbong southwest of Newcastle.  The truck, which was carrying milk, rolled onto its side and skidded for several metres at the Freemans Drive overpass before being hit by a ute.

The truck driver was taken to hospital but the woman driving the ute escaped injury.  A salvage operation is underway but it is expected the freeway will be blocked for several hours. Southbound traffic is being diverted at Palmers Drive to re-enter at Freemans Drive southbound on-ramp.>>

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[Source:  ‘Delays on freeway after truck rollover’, 20110713, AAP, ^http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/delays-on-freeway-after-truck-rollover/story-e6frf7jx-1226093503064]

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Aug 2010:  ‘Heavy metal horror as deaths soar’

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Lost load … the scene at Chullora where a refrigerated pantech fell from a truck
[Source:  Picture: Bill Hearne, The Daily Telegraph]

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<<It was a year of carnage for the state’s truck drivers, with the number of fatal accidents increasing by more than 90 per cent, government statistics reveal.

There were 23 fatal crashes involving heavy rigid trucks – non-articulated vehicles greater than eight tonnes – in 2009. This was up from 12 a year earlier, the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) said.  The BITRE data also showed the number of people killed in accidents involving heavy rigid trucks in NSW was up 100 per cent to 24, when deaths in Australia decreased by 14.7 per cent.

The RTA dismissed claims that the increase in the road death statistics were a cause for concern.  The RTA’s NSW Centre for Road Safety director Soames Job said the increase was the result of a reduction in deaths the year before.   “The main number that produces the outcome is the low number of deaths the previous year. It was extraordinary that we had so few in 2008,” Dr Job said.

Fatal accidents involving articulated trucks fell from 47 in 2008 to 34 in 2009, BITRE said.  The figures came as a truck driver had a lucky escape in Sydney’s west on Tuesday night.

The refrigerated section of a meat carrier sheared from the truck and rolled on to the Hume Highway flyover at Chullora.  A crane was brought in to right the truck to clear the road.

Dr Job said in many crashes, the smaller vehicle might be at fault.  “Lots of these accidents will involve speed and fatigue and that is what we are trying to address,” he said. “We have this large program of speed enforcement in areas where there is known heavy truck traffic and that is why we have said we’ll roll out 20 locations of point-to-point speed cameras across our highway network”..>>

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[Source:  ‘Heavy metal horror as deaths soar’, 20100812, by Rhys Haynes, The Daily Telegraph, ^http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/sydney-news/heavy-metal-horror-as-deaths-soar/story-e6freuzi-1225904114783]

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Aug 2010:  ‘B-double crashes on F3, shutting southbound lanes’

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<<Motorists using the F3 Freeway are being told to divert their travel or face significant traffic delays after a B-double carrying gas cylinders crashed today.  The truck was carrying 1600 nine kilogram cylinders when it hit the eastern brick wall just before the Hawkesbury River Bridge about 9:15am.

No one was injured but the crash forced police to close two of the three southbound lanes. Northbound lanes remain open and all lanes are expected to be opened by 4pm.  Southbound motorists are being urged to avoid the area by taking the Pacific Highway exit at Brooklyn,” a police statement says.  “The gas cylinders are being removed by hand for safety reasons prior to the B-double being removed.  Inquiries into the crash are continuing.>>

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[Source:  ‘B-double crashes on F3, shutting southbound lanes’, 20100831, ^http://www.fullyloaded.com.au/…]

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Jun 2010:  ‘Driver dies after flipping truck on F3’

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<<A man has died in a truck accident on the F3 at Mount White on the New South Wales central coast yesterday.  Police say the driver was turning into a heavy vehicle checking station when his trailer jackknifed at about 3:30pm.  The truck then flipped onto the driver’s side before sliding into a power pole.  The male driver, who has not been formally identified, was killed.  A report will be prepared for the Coroner.>>

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[Source:  ‘Driver dies after flipping truck on F3’, 20100614, ABC News, ^http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-06-14/driver-dies-after-flipping-truck-on-f3/865866]

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Apr 2010:  ‘Highway smash raises response time questions’

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<<The New South Wales Roads Minister says the RTA did not act quickly enough to re-open the F3 Freeway after an accident south of Newcastle yesterday, which left motorists stranded for hours.

A flat-bed truck ran into the back of a fully loaded fuel tanker on the freeway around midday near Mount White, with the accident closing all northbound lanes.

The RTA set up a contraflow around the accident site, using southbound lanes for motorists heading north, and diverting southbound traffic along the old Pacific Highway.

Questions are being asked why it took so long to set up the contraflow, which was not in place until at least eight hours after the crash.

Hazmat crews worked to remove fuel from the tanker, with the Fire Brigade declaring the area safe sometime around midnight.

The Roads and Transport Minister David Campbell says he will be meeting with the RTA today to discuss the delay in re-opening the road.>>

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[Source:  ‘Highway smash raises response time questions’,  20100413, ^http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-04-13/highway-smash-raises-response-time-questions/2588890]

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Apr 2010:  ‘F3 still closed after tanker crash’

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<<The northbound lanes of the F3 freeway north of Sydney could remain closed for up to six hours this evening after a truck accident.

A truck crashed into the back of a fuel tanker at Mount White and traffic is being diverted via the Old Pacific Highway.

The man driving the truck was taken to hospital with serious head injuries.

NSW Fire Brigade controller Ian Krimmer says it could take some time before the fuel is transferred from the tanker and the freeway is re-opened.

“Not good news at all unfortunately. We’re in the hands of the transport company that is trying on scene to conduct the pumping process,” he said.

“When it arrives on scene we have to remember there’s some 43,000 litres of fuel before we can remove the tanker from the road.

“That process could take four to six hours.”>>

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[Source:  ‘F3 still closed after tanker crash’, ABC News, 20100412, ^http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-04-12/f3-still-closed-after-tanker-crash/2599556]

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Apr 2010:  ‘Major delays after F3 truck crash’

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<<A truck driver has been left with serious head injuries after an accident on the New South Wales central coast.  Police say the accident happened on the F3 Freeway at Mount White at about 11:40am (AEST).  It is believed a flat-bed vegetable truck ran into the back of a fully laden petrol tanker…>>

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[Source:  ‘Major delays after F3 truck crash’, 20100412, ABC News, ^http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-04-12/major-delays-after-f3-truck-crash/2596044]

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Sep 2009:  ‘Delays on Sydney’s F3 after another fatality’

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<<Traffic is being delayed on the F3 freeway as police investigate a death near the Mooney Mooney Bridge, south of Gosford.  Police say a man fell onto the road and died just after 1pm AEST.  All northbound lanes have been closed while investigations are carried out…>>

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[Source:  ‘Delays on Sydney’s F3 after another fatality’,  20090903, ABC News, ^http://www.abc.net.au/news/2009-09-03/delays-on-sydneys-f3-after-another-fatality/1415962]

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Aug 2009:  ‘Young parents and baby die in F3 inferno’

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The wreckage on the F3 after the fatal crash
A couple and baby killed
[Photo: Matt Black Productions]

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<<A young Gosford couple and their baby were killed when their car burst into flames in a crash involving a B-double truck and another car on the F3 freeway on the NSW Central Coast yesterday night.

Police said two cars stopped on the freeway before a truck struck both vehicles from behind, killing a 27-year-old woman, a 32-year-old man and a five-month-old baby at 10.50pm. The impact caused one of the cars and the truck to catch fire.  There was also another triple fatality in central-northern NSW about 10.30am today on Newell Highway near Narrabri.

Police said the bodies of the young family were found in the charred car on the 110 km/h marked stretch of road near the Mount White weigh-bridge. Two other people were taken to Gosford Hospital with various injuries.

Metropolitan crash investigator Sergeant Peter Jenkins said the family’s car was completely “incinerated”.  “For some reason the two vehicles have become stationary in lane one, northbound, they’re not in the breakdown lane, they’re actually still in the traffic lane,” he told Macquarie Radio today.

“The young family’s car is the southern vehicle, another northbound car has braked and stopped and swerved to miss it and entered into the breakdown lane.

“Since that’s happened the truck driver’s been exposed to these two vehicles and he’s done what he can, but he hasn’t been able to avoid these two vehicles.”   He said the truck driver was suffering from shock and had been discharged from hospital after speaking to police.

Towers Transport general manager John Perkins said the truck driver was very upset.  “He has no apparent physical injuries … he’s extremely distraught,” Mr Perkins said.

He would not comment on the circumstances surrounding the accident but said the company had never been involved in a fatal crash.  “We’ve been in business for 20 years, we’ve got about 50 trucks, and this is the first time we’ve been faced with something like this,” Mr Perkins said.

The driver of the second car was taken to Gosford Hospital for treatment, but police have been unable to to speak to him. His condition is unknown.   The family has been identified and some relatives have been notified of their deaths, he said.

Sergeant Jenkins played down claims the stretch of road was dangerous, saying he hadn’t been able to attribute a serious crash in the area to the design or condition of the road in the past 20 years.

“I think the F3 is actually quite a good stretch of road in most parts,” he said.

“Inquiries into the circumstances leading up to the crash are continuing,” a police spokesman said.

‘Expect long delays’

Northbound lanes on the F3 freeway out of Sydney have reopened to traffic but motorists are warned to expect long delays.

All northbound lanes were closed while police removed the bodies and wreckage and carried out an investigation until about 11.20am today.

Despite reopening the lanes, traffic is still banked up for almost 10 kilometres between Mount White and the Hawkesbury River, the Road and Traffic Authority says.

“All lanes are open on the F3, but traffic will take a while to clear, an RTA spokesman told AAP.

“Traffic is still heavy with significant delays and people who have been diverted on to the Pacific Highway will also experience significant delays.”

It is the second major crash in two days on the F3 in that area. Four people escaped serious injury in a six-vehicle crash caused when a piece of scaffolding fell off a semitrailer at Mooney Mooney yesterday.

Police are appealing for anyone who might have seen the crash and are yet to speak to crash investigators to contact them via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.>>

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[Source:  ‘Young parents and baby die in F3 inferno’,  20090828,  by Georgina Robinson, Dylan Welch and AAP, ^http://www.smh.com.au/national/young-parents-and-baby-die-in-f3-inferno-20090828-f1fe.html]

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SELECTED COMMENTS TO THIS INCIDENT:

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Maxamillion:

<<Car drivers have had lots of restrictions placed on them over the years in an attempt to reduce the road toll including school zones due to a slight increase in accidents. A 100% increase in heavy truck deaths is not acceptable. Reduce their speeds to 60kph and reduce fatigue by reducing driving time to 6 hours per day and accidents due to speed or fatigue will drop. Imagine what would happen if car deaths increased 100%. Would we see changes, you can bet on it.>>

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Rod Pickin:

<<Until the maximum road speed for heavy vehicles is limited to 80kph, you can expect a continued increase in accidents/deaths involving these vehicles. Currently heavy vehicles are being driven dangerously and at high speed as a result of work/deadline pressures imposed upon drivers by owners/operators and major supermarket customers all sanctioned by govt. bodies.

Truly how rediculous is it that a fully loaded B-Double even road train fuel/gas tanker is legally allowed on our highways in the wet to travel at 100kph? that is just inviting major drama so one is entitled to ask, who is putting presure on who in order that this be allowed.>

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Rob:

<<I’ve noticed the lack of ‘100 speed limited’ signs on most trucks these days as they go flying past me on the highways while I’m obeying the limit.>>

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Julian:

<<This is sad. The carnage on the F3 goes on, mostly involving semi-trailers. When I take my family on holidays, trucks tail-gate us at 120Kph, and scare the hell out of me.>>

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Young parents and toddler die in fiery crash:

<<The solution is simple. make speed limit for trucks 70kmh max and must not move out of left lane for whatever reason. the F3 is the most dangerous freeway I have ever driven on, doing 100-110 on blind hills and bends a truck has no way of stopping fast if it has to.>>

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David:

<<I drive the F3 every day and it is a miracle that more accidents such as these do no occur. In peak hour the average speed of vehicles is in excess of speed limit and cars do this with the knowledge that they are highly unlikely to be caught. When police do drive along the freeway they also average around 10 kph above the speed limit and cars just happily follow them at that speed.

In the road works area you have speed variances of between 80 kph (speed limit) and 120 kph with average of around 100 kph. To sit on the speed limit along that road is nearly more dangerous than speeding.  This is a tragedy as are all road deaths and one can only hope that this does force the authorities into action so that something positive comes from it to get some sanity back into the way drivers behave on this road.>>

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mirage:

<<I’m sure its another example of a truck driver that was speeding – I travel every few weeks up and down the F3 in a normal sedan at 100-110km per hour and most trucks fly past me except when going up the hills…the Police are not doing enough and some truck drivers just think they can do what they want…same attitude problem as the ferry drivers on the harbour and bus drivers…they think the road is theirs and they are smarter than the rest, professional drivers…they should know that in the end the extra speed doesnt make much difference…>>

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More Trains, Less Trucks:

<<One partial solution would be to build a freight line so that we could send more goods by rail. Think about howmany trucks would be off the road for each extra train.   I am sure that the truckies would complain about potential loss of jobs, but that wasn’t the case when the Ghan was extended from Alice Springs to Darwin.

Instead of losing jobs, the truckies found that they had more short haul jobs supplying the freight trains and less long haul jobs with all of the associated safety issues.>>

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Kate:  

<<I used to drive the F3 regularly but now catch the train as it is too dangerous. If you look at the accident record over the past few years, you will see most involve trucks. The F3 is one of the few decent roads in the state, yet now ruined by huge speeding semis and other trucks that are a terrible hazard to cars. On top of that everyone speeds like the devil, with impunity it seems. All those massive tonnes of heavy goods in transit should be shipped by rail. The whole transport thing is getting completely out of hand.>>

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frederick:

<<I am often horrified at the increase in trucks on our roads and the frequent aggressive driving adopted by these drivers. Driving generally on our roads has become so bad that this sort of horror is going to keep happening. Anyone who drives at or near the speed limit would know. Unless of course our pollies have the guts to do something about it and the Police start to enforce some of the existing road rules. With three warning signs before every fixed speed camera we might as well adopt a new slogan for NSW – THE DUMB STATE! 

How many more lives is it going to take before we come to our senses?>>

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Ian C. Purdie:

<<Yes, so trucks are speed limited to 100 kph, the sign on the back says so. That would be the reason they either tail gate you at 110 kph or overtake.>>

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waqi13:

<<I travel on F3 several times each week for work. At least once a week I have a close call with truck drivers not paying attention to what is going on around them. It seems that 90% of trucks have blinkers and side mirrors that don’t work – they change lanes at the drop of a hat with no indication, and in the worst case scenario to overtake another truck that they cannot go fasther than anyway – creating a long line of traffic, chugging up a hill at much less then the speed limit.

I have learnt to give trucks a wide berth, because they will do what they want to do without checking for any cars around them.>>

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Daniel:

<<It’s a dangerous road at night and drivers need to have full concentration on the freeway. they need to stick to the speed limit. Ive driven on it so many times and I do 110 and others are flying past me all the time. Trucks are going faster than the 100 they are supposed to be doing. Most of the time now I use the old Pacific Highway through to Gosford. its just too dangerous with all the rats on the road.>>

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JSKS:

<<It’s very sad indeed. In fact 110km/hr is a very fast speed for a fully loaded truck. It’s not easy for the truck to stop that easily when their loads are full. At 10.30pm, the truck light shining distance is at best 30 meters. I believed by the time the driver realised that there is a car in front, it’s too late to stop effectively. In other countries, while the Freeway limit is 110km/hr, the maximum speed limit for truck is only 90km/hr. Yes, this will delay delivery time but I think HUMAN LIFE is more important than delivery time.>

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SP233K:

<<I drive on the F3 every day, and seriously no one obeys speed limits,they tailgate,they speed like crazy,the have no regard for anyone else,trucks speed and change lanes cutting people off and don’t care at all.  Every day i worry i will end up in an accident and as soon as it gets dark trucks drive about a thousand times worse,they would have no way of stopping quickly. 

Police constantly pull over cars (in the event there are actually police patrolling which is not very often).  I really think they should be pulling over trucks as well.  I hope this is a warning to everyone to be more careful on the F3, surely there have been enough horrific accidents for everyone to see how dangerous it is. 

My heart goes out to the families of the people involved in last night’s accident.  I drove past this morning and it really was a horrible scene.>>

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[Sources:  ‘Surviving driver may hold F3 horror key to why young family stopped on freeway’, 20090829, by Rhys Haynes, Justin Vallejo, The Daily Telegraph, ^http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/surviving-driver-may-hold-f3-horror-key-to-why-young-family-stopped-on-freeway/story-e6freuy9-1225767218559: and ‘Young parents and baby die in F3 inferno’, 20090828, Sydney Morning Herald, ^http://www.smh.com.au/national/young-parents-and-baby-die-in-f3-inferno-20090828-f1fe.html]

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May 2009:  ‘B-double involved in F3 collision with car’

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<<There has been yet another traffic accident on the F3 involving a B-double truck, overnight.   About 10.40pm last night (Tuesday), the driver of the B-double truck, a 38-year-old man from Cundletown, allegedly changed lanes and ran straight into a car being driven by a 63-year-old man from Umina.  Both vehicles were travelling north along the freeway at Wahroonga, near Alexandria Pde.

When the car was hit, it spun out of control, police said, and collided with the median guardrail.  The driver of the car was trapped until emergency crews cut him from the wreckage.

He was taken to the Royal North Shore Hospital with suspected back injuries and remains in a serious but stable condition.  Hornsby Police have told the Advocate they will wait on the results of blood test before taking any action.  No charges have yet been laid.>>

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[Source:  ‘B-double involved in F3 collision with car’, 20090527, Hornsby Advocate, ^http://hornsby-advocate.whereilive.com.au/news/story/another-b-double-involved-in-f3-collision-with-car/]

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Apr 2009:  ‘F3 truck ‘cut off’ before cliff plunge’

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<<Police are searching for the driver of a white Kenworth truck seen close to a semitrailer that plunged 80 metres off the F3, north of Sydney yesterday.  Emergency services workers have recovered the body of the 40-year-old driver. The driver is reported to have been married with a young child.

The semitrailer will be salvaged by crane from 8pm today, with northbound traffic to be diverted from the F3 at Wahroonga.  The B-Double Linfox semitrailer was carrying toilet paper when it crashed through a safety barrier at the side of the freeway and fell into the valley near Hornsby about 11.35am yesterday.

Two northbound lanes of the F3 were closed and traffic was diverted after the crash.  Police are investigating reports the Sydney man had swerved to miss another truck which had changed lanes in front of him, before his vehicle speared off the road.  Police today appealed for the driver of the Kenworth truck to come forward.

“We are appealing for the driver of a white Kenworth that was close to the [semitrailer] at the time of the crash to contact police through the Crime Stoppers hotline and tell us what they know or what they might have seen at the time the truck went over the railing,” a NSW Police spokeswoman said.

Senior Sergeant Peter Jenkins of the Metropolitan Crash Investigation Unit said witnesses told police there were some trucks near the semitrailer before the crash happened.

“It would apply at this stage that they might not have contributed to the crash. They might be totally innocent people driving along. But we would like to interview them because they may know something about the reason why this gentleman has left the roadway,” he said.  “So we are appealing to them as witnesses at this stage.”

Senior Sergeant Jenkins said it was raining quite heavily when the accident occurred and police would be investigating all the possible accident factors, including weather, road surface, traffic, mechancial issues and the driver’s schedule.

But Phil Easterbrook, who lives near where the accident happened and heard a bang, said the accident was not unexpected.  “We always hear the sound of horns going off and of braking. They are [hooting] to avert an accident because people are cutting them off,” he said.  “We hear banging quite regularly from vehicles from accidents happening.”

Mr Easterbrook, who used to drive a truck, said trucks would try to build up speed as they went up the hill, and so would not like other vehicles cutting them off.

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ROAD SURFACE HAZARD

Paul Gerrard, who uses the F3 daily to travel from Kellyville to his work in Tuggerah and back, said the road surface where the accident occurred had been a serious hazard for a few months.

“Approximately four to five months ago the original freeway road surface [bitumen] was removed by mechanical pavement machines in an overnight operation that went for several weeks,” he said.  “In the absence of signs it appears the pavement was removed to enable the whole freeway to be resurfaced with bitumen after the widening project [of the freeway] is completed.

Mr Gerrard said the northbound lanes, which were resurfaced, now had a rough texture and were dangerous to drive on especially during heavy rain.  “The road gets far too much water and there’s no control. My experience is that, during heavy rain, drivers must slow to approximately 70kmh or the car aquaplanes left. It is an expectation and not random.”

He said the rails along these lanes were dented from large impacts of vehicles hitting them.

An RTA spokesman said that, while it could not comment on the accident as it was the subject of a police investigation, concrete roads such as the ones on the F3 were not uncommon in NSW.

“The RTA regularly carries out tests on road surface across the state and this section of road was last tested in August and September of last year. These tests showed that the road surface provided adequate wet-weather grip,” the spokesman said.  The RTA spokesman said it understood the accident took place “on a downhill section where surface water would not accumulate”, and advised motorists to slow down and adjust their driving when there was wet weather.

From 2003 to 2007, there were six crashes reported on the 1km northbound section of of the F3 just north of the Edgeworth David Avenue overpass at Wahroonga, the spokesman said.

None of the crashes involved heavy vehicles and there were no deaths, he said.

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CRANE FAILED TO MOVE SEMI-TRAILER

A crane was brought in to lift the semitrailer, but a 7?-hour operation from 4.30pm to midnight by emergency services failed to move it.

“The boom on it to go down to the truck was not long enough,” an RTA spokeswoman said.  A larger 400-tonne crane would be brought in to lift the truck tonight, the spokeswoman said.

It was not yet decided which company would be supplying the crane, although it was likely Linfox would foot the bill, she said.

The RTA said the crane would take three to four hours to assemble, and the same time to disassemble. It said it would take four hours to move the truck.  The RTA will close access to the F3 northbound from the Pacific Highway and Pennant Hills Road at Wahroonga during the salvage operation.

Traffic would rejoin the F3 at Berowa. Diversions were expected to be in place until 8am tomorrow, the RTA said. Southbound lanes would not be affected.  Yesterday’s fears that the fuel spilt from the truck would cause environmental damage have also dissipated, NSW Fire Brigades spokesman Craig Brierley said.

The diesel from the truck spread over a large area and sank into the soil beneath the truck, but did not reach the water catchment area nearby, Mr Brierley said.  The low amount of fuel in the tank and its cargo meant there were fewer fears about its impact on the environment, he said.  “There was only 500 litres of diesel on the truck, which is not a lot, so that made the job a lot easier,” Mr Brierley said.   Hazmat crews were at the site of the crash for most of yesterday night and would check the area again when the truck was removed, he said.

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[Ed:  Was the RTA recklessly culpable for the driver’s death?]

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FUND ESTABLISHED TO HELP FAMILYT OF DEAD TRUCKIE

The young family of the driver will be the recipients of a fund established by transport union officials.

“The man who died yesterday had a young family and what happened can only be described as a tragedy,” Transport Workers’ Union NSW secretary Wayne Forno said today.  “The TWU is calling on all members to donate to a fund we are setting up for the man’s family, and Linfox has indicated they will match those donations.  “But we are also calling for a full investigation into the incident, and for the coroner to examine how hyper-competitive road freight industry and the inadequate pay and conditions of truck drivers are contributing to more deaths on the road.”

A Linfox spokesman said the company did not comment on donations, but “conditionally we would match what colleagues contribute”.>>

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[Source:  ‘F3 truck ‘cut off’ before cliff plunge’, Sydney Morning Herald, 20090422, by Glenda Kwek, AAP, ^http://www.smh.com.au/national/f3-truck-cut-off-before-cliff-plunge-20090422-aeal.html]

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Oct 2008:  ‘Truck catches fire on F3’

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<<There has heavy traffic on the F3 freeway north of Sydney after a truck caught on fire just before 11:00am AEDT today.   The accident blocked all northbound lanes at Mount White, but traffic is now moving slowly after a lane was reopened.   It is not yet known what caused the blaze.

Kate Martin was driving on the freeway when the accident happened.  “It was on fire, really badly on fire, black smoke just streaming out of the truck,” she said.  “It took a while for the police to arrive. It was burning for about 10 minutes before any services arrived.”>>

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[Source:  ‘Truck catches fire on F3’,  20081009, ABC News, ^http://www.abc.net.au/news/2008-10-09/truck-catches-fire-on-f3/536316]

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Nov 2007:  ‘Drivers urged to delay after F3 smash’

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<<Commuters on the New South Wales Central Coast are being urged to delay their drive to Sydney after a crash involving a semi-trailer and several cars on the F3 freeway, near Mount White.

The Ambulance Service says two women and a teenage girl are in a stable condition in hospital after the accident.  Roads and Traffic Authority spokesman Alec Brown says all three southbound lanes are blocked and traffic is backed up for three kilometres.

Mr Brown says it is not known how long it will take to clear the accident.  “It’s impossible to predict. It really does depend on how smoothly it goes,” he said.  “We’ve removed one truck already. We’re working on the rest of the vehicles and that’s something we’re doing as a priority.”

Traffic is being diverted onto the Old Pacific Highway.>>

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[Source:  ‘Drivers urged to delay after F3 smash’, 20071109, ABC News, ^http://www.abc.net.au/news/2007-11-09/drivers-urged-to-delay-after-f3-smash/720460]

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Motorway Widening Cancer
Road Widening is a Chicken and Egg causality dilemma
– widen it and they shall come and then congest it, so widen it again

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<<It doesn’t matter who’s right in this situation. The bigger problem has been the failure of the Australian government for setting unrealistic freight rail goals for Port Botany.

After setting a goal of shipping 40 percent of all Port Botany cargo by rail, the Australian government has dropped its target to 28 percent

“’Forty per cent was unrealistic and unachievable and typified Labor’s propensity to pluck figures out of the air,” the Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The increased number of trucks on the road is already causing considerable delays for motorists. Last Friday, one semi-trailer jack-knifed across one highway, according to the Herald, causing a traffic jam roughly 5 miles long.>>

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[Source:  ‘Sydney traffic worsens as freight forwarding climbs’, 20111128, by Kevin Scarpati, Supply Chain Digital, ^http://www.supplychaindigital.com/global_logistics/sydney-traffic-worsens-as-freight-forwarding-climbs]

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2 Responses to “Great Western Highway set to be a Trucking F3”

  1. Andrew Walker says:

    I am writing to you in relation to the truck crash on the F3 27-8-2009 with the family of 3 killed.
    I was the driver of the B Double and I found the ‘selected comments’ offensive misleading and showed the close-minded ignorance that is so prevalent when it comes the Transport Industry.
    I was driving at a speed that was calculated to be 90kph which is 10kph below the 100kph the truck is speed limited to and 20kph below the 110kph posted speed limit. I was well inside the allowed work hours I was not fatigued nor was I tailgating. The truck was 4 weeks old and the trailers were well maintained and I provided a log book of repairs and scheduled maintenance on both trailers. I was not and I am not:
    [Ed: And truckies and their supporting wives wonder why truckies have a bad reputation and often cop blame? Trucking is not a profession. It is a uncontrolled cowboy skill-easy job earning pittance, attracting imbeciles and causing reckless maiming and death. This Editor has continued to hold an ‘HC’ licence from 1989, but income-wise has long since moved on.]
    I was tested for any substance legal or illegal with a urine and blood test conducted at Gosford hospital and I returned a negative sample, I do not drink and I do not take drugs.
    The comments that follow the article that says the cars had stopped on the freeway in a traffic lane and the police could find no reason for this they had not been in an accident not broken down and the reason may never be known. That night was a tragedy in so many way for so many from the family that did not get home, family friends left behind, a baby that never got to have a life not even one birthday or Christmas, emergency services Police Ambulance Fire Hospital staff, witnesses, survivor in the red car and myself then you have to add my family employer workmates. This is then magnified by the people who post comments such as yours trying to push their environmentalist agenda of stopping progress at all costs with no offer of real alternative. Banners, protest marches, political environmental chants and blogs of stereotypical rants about everything from a truck driver to a coal mine anything to get little airtime disrupt people going about the business never offering an positive alternative or prepared to compromise. Growing up in the Blue Mountains I witnessed time and time again the way in which no matter what was being proposed from major road works to a street sign being changed there was always a reason for a major protest that it was an environmental disaster had to be stopped because it would cause massive damage to the entire world if that road was widened to make the traffic flow better or an entire species will be made extinct if that sign is put up there.
    You made me out to be the embodiment of evil driving this Weapon of Mass Destruction even though the facts and evidence showed the complete opposite. All that I and the majority of professional driver do is transport the goods that you and I need every day. So if you want to get trucks off the road why not boycott any product that is transported by a uncontrolled cowboy skill-easy job earning pittance, attracting imbeciles and causing reckless maiming and death because every time you make a purchase or order something you are relying on a uncontrolled cowboy skill-easy job earning pittance, attracting imbeciles and causing reckless maiming and death to bring it to you, now isn’t that a dilemma.
    Kind Regards
    Andrew Walker
    I read the caption under the photo:
    Semi-trailer cowboy carrying sand and speeding, 4km west of Mount Tomah, June 2012
    It rolled, spilling its load across the Bells Line of Road
    Quoting the source as, http://www.cowracommunitynews.com/viewnews.php?newsid=834&id=3
    A PERSON has been killed in a truck crash on the Bells Line of Road east of Lithgow.
    The semi-trailer carrying sand rolled, spilling its load across the roadway, 4km west of
    Mount Tomah about 12:30pm yesterday.
    Traffic was diverted around the scene via the Great Western Highway.
    Police have not yet released any information about the possible cause of the crash or details of the deceased.

    So you have mislead readers by changing the story from the actual news report to suit your agenda not the mention the absolutely despicable act of doing this to a deceased.

    Mt Wilson RFB assisting at a truck accident on the Bells Line of RoadMt Wilson RFB assisting at a truck accident on the Bells Line of RoadMt Wilson RFB assisting at a truck accident on the Bells Line of Road in November 2010.
    West Sector Brigades are frequently called to accidents on the Bells Line of Road and Darling Causeway.
    Mt Wilson RFB provides a dual role of fire cover and Community First Responder.
    This is under the picture of a B Double on its side and the RFB attend in their Fire Truck and ED says [Ed: And truckies and their supporting wives wonder why truckies have a bad reputation and often cop blame? Trucking is not a profession. It is a uncontrolled cowboy skill-easy job earning pittance, attracting imbeciles and causing reckless maiming and death. This Editor has continued to hold an ‘HC’ licence from 1989, but income-wise has long since moved on.] A truck is a truck and I am sure that the habitatadvocates are super keen to see the FIRE TRUCK when there is a bush fire or house fire. So does ED only want to get rid of the trucks he wants and keep truck he likes can he give an explanation of this. What about moving house a man and a truck is need so that would have to be an exception for ED.
    But Phil Easterbrook, who lives near where the accident happened and heard a bang, said the accident was not unexpected. “We always hear the sound of horns going off and of braking. They are [hooting] to avert an accident because people are cutting them off,” he said. “We hear banging quite regularly from vehicles from accidents happening.”

    Mr Easterbrook, who used to drive a truck, said trucks would try to build up speed as they went up the hill, and so would not like other vehicles cutting them off.

    Well Mr Easterbrook thank you for your support of the truck drivers “We always hear the sound of horns going off and of braking. They are [hooting] to avert an accident because people are cutting them off,”

  2. Editor says:

    Mr Walker,

    Please provide a copy of the Coroner’s Report of the family of 3.

    Ed.

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