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Pacific Highway scares truckies

Mills Transport driver Dom Ciani of Crabbes Creek has had years of experience driving trucks on the Pacific Highway, but now avoids driving south of Ballina because of its treacherous state.
Mills Transport driver Dom Ciani of Crabbes Creek has had years of experience driving trucks on the Pacific Highway, but now avoids driving south of Ballina because of its treacherous state. Cathy Adams

SOME truckies refuse to drive on the Pacific Highway between Ballina and Kempsey, abandoning their cabs and handing jobs over to drivers prepared to brave the nation’s most dangerous stretch of bitumen.

It is the state of this 324km stretch of the highway that has many veteran truckies unwilling to take the chance, Pacific Highway truckie Leigh Foster said.

“Some won’t travel past Clybucca, where they change drivers.

"Some just won’t go past there because of the road conditions,” he said.

“I have also seen truckies on the road at night when they are half asleep and you try to get them on the radio because they are on the wrong side of the road.”

Mr Foster said if a truck crashed on this section of the highway it was more likely to be a serious head-on crash because it was only two lanes, not divided dual carriageway.

“That is the bad thing about the Pacific Highway, because you can come together,” he said.

Mr Foster said the lack of truck parking bays also increased pressure on fatigued drivers.

Local Mills Transport driver Dom Ciani, 52, has been driving trucks since 1985 and has spent many of those years braving the highway’s treacherous conditions.

Mr Ciani now drives between Brisbane and Lismore and avoids the highway south of Ballina.

While conditions on the highway have improved since he started driving, sections of road still worry him.

“There are still some bad sections near Tabbimoble,” he said.

“It is a long and straight and a fatigue area, that place.

“You see a lot of cars off the road and always having accidents there.

“Having dual carriageway will make a big difference.”

Mr Ciani also spoke of his frustration over the lack of overtaking lanes on the highway.

When asked what he believed caused most truck crashes, Mr Ciani said “fatigue, bad roads and cars cutting off trucks”.

NSW Road and Traffic Authority crash statistics rate fatigue as the second-biggest factor in traffic accidents after speed.

Mr Ciani said fatigue among truck drivers was heightened by the lack of adequate truck bays along the Pacific Highway.

The Crabbes Creek-based driver said he was often forced to drive for extended periods – already tired and in need of his mandatory break – because the small trucking bays were already full.

The Pacific Highway was recently voted the worst highway in Australia by truckies in a survey conducted by McColl’s Transport.


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