Louts of the night
THE LATEST rock-throwing incidents along the northern stretches of the Newell Highway reminded me of a similar situation I was part of back in 1988. Not in Australia though; this was Thailand’s northern regions.
It was late at night and I was a passenger on a coach travelling north from Bangkok to Lampang Province.
This was no luxury coach though. Six non-reclining seats in each row, squeezed into a space where four should be. Sort of like a day cab doing long-haul interstate. I was the only westerner on board, although maybe one or two there had a basic knowledge of the English language.
The coach was making good time, but on a fairly unpopulated and dark stretch of road I heard a loud crack. At least one person outside, there may have been more, had thrown a rock directly at the driver’s window.
I was later told it was a deliberate attempt to try and injure the driver, hoping the coach would then crash or pull over, leaving passengers open to a classic case of highway robbery.
Fortunately that wasn’t the case, as the would-be thieves failed to get the result they were looking for, and the coach driver was obviously experienced with this type of scenario and continued on without stopping.
The rock-throwing hooligans along the Newell Highway near Moree are believed to be in their early teens, or even younger. It would appear that robbery is not on their minds, unless they’re interested in hijacking a truck or stealing a driver’s lunchbox.
No, this lot are only interested in either causing damage to the truck and/or injuring the driver.
This type of behaviour has been ongoing from the Queensland border and south to Moree for at least four years. In the years prior, it was the NSW section of the Hume Highway where both trucks and cars were targeted, the most serious being when truck driver Mark Evans was killed under the Glenlee Rod overpass at Menangle in 1998.
Safety fences have been built on much of the Hume’s overpasses, but the Newell is a much more difficult area to police. It’s less populated, and the culprits appear to be adept at disappearing into the night without a trace.
Truck drivers face enough danger on the road without the added threat of this lot.