A woman has died following a single vehicle crash on the Bunya Highway at about 11.30am on April 3, 2018. Her vehicle left the road and struck a tree about 9km south of Kumbia.
A woman has died following a single vehicle crash on the Bunya Highway at about 11.30am on April 3, 2018. Her vehicle left the road and struck a tree about 9km south of Kumbia. Michael Nolan

South Burnett's risky and fatal roads named and shamed

TRAVELLING through the South Burnett involves driving on some of the riskiest roads in the state, RACQ data suggests.

The 20 kilometre D'Aguilar Highway stretch between Nanango and Kingaroy was ranked 35 on the RACQ upgrade priority list.

Carrying 4300 vehicles a day, the highway claimed three lives and was the location for 32 casualty crashes between 2012 and 2016.

RACQ spokesperson Lucinda Ross said the survey prioritised stretches of road according to their crash risk, using the Australian Road Assessment Program rating systems and data from 2012 to 2016.

"Disturbingly, we've found some of the region's busiest roads are potentially deadly, drivers deserve better,” she said.

RACQ identified the D'Aguilar and Bunya Highways as a high risk according to their upgrade priority list, and Burnett and Wide Bay Highways as medium-high risks.

In comparison, the Nanango to Kingaroy D'Aguilar highway stretch had 0.32 casualty crashes per kilometre on average per year, compared to 0.19 crashes per kilometre on the Bunya Highway between Wondai and Goomeri.

The Burnett Highway from Nanango to Goomeri was only 0.07 the annual average casualty crashes per kilometre, based on data from 2012 to 2016.

RACQ determined which sections of the highways across the Wide Bay needed attention first by studying the crash statistics, Ms Ross said.

RACQ found a total of 14 high and medium-high risk roads across the Wide Bay which were putting the region's drivers in danger, she said.

"We know safer roads lead to fewer crashes and fewer deaths and injuries so we can't afford for roads in the Wide Bay to be forgotten,” Ms Ross said.

Kingaroy Senior Sergeant David Tierney said drivers should be focussed and drive to the road conditions.

"Where the accidents that are happening and the roads are badly damaged, they're happening to people that are locals so they already know the roads are in that state,” he said.

With loose gravel and potholes on the road, speed signs are merely maximum speeds and the motorists should drive to the conditions, Snr Sgt Tierney said.

South Burnett's road crash data from 2012 to 2016 reveals how risky the roads are.

Drivers should also adjust according to the weather conditions, and slow down when there is ice on the road, rain or fog, he said.

They should be alert during dawn and dusk, particularly in winter with the afternoons getting darker earlier, he said.

"You have to drive to the conditions, you don't know what's going to come out in front of you, you don't know what someone else is going to do, so you've got to give yourself time to react,” Sgt Tierney said.

RACQ called on the State and Federal governments to focus on urgent safety upgrades for the risky roads.

"This isn't just about major road upgrades, we need the Queensland Government to further commit to a targeted program of low-cost, high-impact works such as wide centre lines, safety barriers, cleared roadsides and intersection upgrades,” Ms Ross said.

"These can be delivered fairly quickly and have a big impact in reducing the number of crashes and injuries.”

Snr Sgt Tierney said the South Burnett police gather reports from these accidents and go to road safety meetings with the council and the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

"We can't say too many accidents are the road's fault,” he said.

When the police do the reports, if they are concerned the road's condition was a contributing factor to the crash, they will bring it to the meeting's attention, Snr Sgt Tierney said.

It was not just a matter of making a minor change to the road when it is a major contributor to those accidents, he said.

"It is not a mere matter of putting a stop sign at an intersection which might stop accidents there,” Snr SgtTierney said.

There needs to be surveys to determine the best option, for any adjustments need to be investigated to see how that solution then impacts the traffic flow and safety in other areas of the road, he said.

"Unfortunately there's limited budgets for everyone so they can only attend to the major stuff,” Snr Sgt Tierney said.

The 2018-2019 Palaszczuk state budget put aside $6.5 million for road upgrades for the D'Aguilar Highway.

Only $200,000 in the Queensland budget was allocated for the Burnett Highway to widen and seal a 700-metre section between Goomeri and Gayndah.


RACQ's upgrade priority list:

D'Aguilar Highway - high risk (ranked 35 between Nanango to Kingaroy and 44 from Yarraman to Nanango)

Bunya Highway - high risk (ranked 40 between Wondai to Goomeri)

Wide Bay Highway - medium high risk (ranked 74 between Goomeri and Kilkivan)

Burnett Highway - medium risk (ranked 95 between Nanango and Goomeri)