TURN OFF: The intersection of the Pacific Highway and Cameron Street near Ferry Park in Maclean has been the scene of two collisions in the past month, including one fatal.
TURN OFF: The intersection of the Pacific Highway and Cameron Street near Ferry Park in Maclean has been the scene of two collisions in the past month, including one fatal. Adam Hourigan

Clarence Valley's most dangerous stretch of highway

RESEARCH from the Australian Road Assessment Program has rated the stretch of the Pacific Hwy from Grafton to Maclean as the most dangerous section of highway in the Clarence Valley.

An average of 7950 vehicles travelled on the 39km section of highway from 2010 to 2014. During that time, there were a total of 64 casualty crashes and three lives lost, to give the road a medium-high risk rating, the 69th worst section of highway in Australia.

However, that figure pales in comparison to this year's road toll, which saw three lives lost on that same stretch of highway.

This year's road toll has spiked compared to previous years, with 17 fatal crashes and 18 deaths in the Coffs/Clarence Local Area Command, with 14 of those deaths occurring on Clarence Valley roads. This figure eclipses last year's total of five lives, a figure that was matched in April.

Traffic and Highway Patrol Command Chief Inspector Phillip Brooks said high risk driver and rider behaviour is to blame for the high death toll on our roads.

"The high death toll is certainly representative of what we're seeing with poor driver behaviour," he said.

"We know it's speeding, drink and drug driving, driving fatigued or distracted with a mobile phone that is causing what are these very sad and tragic events on our roads."

The road toll for the Clarence Valley has matched the state-wide trend, with 383 lives lost so far in 2016, compared to 346 this time last year.

In comparison, the Pacific Hwy from Coffs Harbour to Grafton is rated as having a low-medium risk level, with 15 people killed on the 76km stretch from 2010 to 2014, and is ranked 159 nationally. The 83km stretch of the Pacific Hwy from Maclean to Ballina was rated by the Australian Road Assessment Program as 153rd worst in the country, with a low-medium risk rating. Eighteen people died in 121 casualty crashes in the four year period of the study.

NSW Police started operation Safe Arrival on Friday morning, with double demerit points on driving infringements effective during the holiday period.

Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy, Acting Commander of State's Traffic & Highway Patrol Command, said that double demerits should not be the only deterrent for people over the holiday period.

"Double demerits have already started this morning, and all drivers - especially those on their p-plates - can lose their licence in a flash," he said.

"While double-demerits are an important deterrent, I want people to be reminded that the real reason you should obey the rules is not to keep your licence, it's to keep your life."



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