EDITORIAL: Focus needed, from drivers and government alike

Yet another fatality on Mt Darragh Rd this week.

The loss of any life on our roads is a tragedy – that so many have come to grief on one 50km-long stretch of road in the Bega Valley is deplorable.

As we’re reporting this week, statistics compiled by the NSW Transport Centre for Road Safety show that in only the five years from 2013-2017 there were 15 fatal crashes in the Bega Valley.

Four of those were on Mt Darragh Rd.

There were also a reported seven incidents resulting in “serious injury” on the same road and an eighth at the Princes Hwy T-junction.

The Princes Hwy understandably gets a lot of attention for funding through state government regional roads programs and blackspot funding.

It needs it – as our ongoing FIX IT NOW campaign coverage highlights.

We’ve also seen recent announcements of considerable state funding for the Towamba Rd between Eden and Burragate – with “too many near accidents” among the justifications for the $10million investment – and more for Eden with $1.7million for an intersection that will improve freight movements from the port (among other benefits).

Don’t get us wrong, these projects will benefit many both in terms of safety and economics. But where’s the consideration for lives being lost? For the proportion of recorded fatalities and major injuries seen on Mt Darragh Rd, surely our road authorities need to take closer notice.

As a result of two fatal crashes on the road in 2015, local motorcyclist and community advocate Glenn Cotter organised a meeting with the Bega Valley Shire Council to discuss ways in which it could be improved.

Unfortunately, Mr Cotter was critically injured in a bike crash on that very road only two days before the meeting.

“I died twice on the operating table in Bega before I was flown to Canberra and was in an induced coma for four days,” Mr Cotter said in 2015.

“It’s ironic that I got injured on the road that I was advocating to get fixed.

“Mount Darragh Road is a nightmare. It’s a treacherous piece of road with a lot of animals and also a lot of people who don’t drive to the conditions. It’s terrible that these things keep happening on the road but hopefully it will force someone to act and for the road to be improved.”

Given the multiple crashes and fatalities since, it appears not much has changed.