DRIVEN TO DEATH

M1 con­ges­tion raises risk of fa­tal frus­tra­tion, says RACQ

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - DARYL PASSMORE

CRUNCH TIME: Crashes such as this one, in which a truck caught fire on the M1 at Nerang, can cause traf­fic to grind to a halt. Pic­ture: Jerad Wil­liams TRAF­FIC con­ges­tion on the M1 is tak­ing a tragic toll on Queenslanders’ lives as well as their time.

Anal­y­sis by the RACQ shows the num­ber of fa­tal­i­ties and in­juries on the Pa­cific High­way be­tween Bris­bane and the Gold Coast is higher than would be ex­pected on a road of that qual­ity.

Six peo­ple have been killed and more than 1500 in­jured in crashes be­tween the Gate­way Mo­tor­way in­ter­change and Tu­gun in the past 3½ years, Depart­ment of Trans­port and Main Roads fig­ures re­veal.

“Con­ges­tion in it­self can cause crashes. Con­ges­tion can kill,” RACQ chief com­mu­ni­ca­tions of­fi­cer Paul Turner said.

Stop-start traf­fic and queues at on and off ramps raise the risk of multi-ve­hi­cle nose-to-tail col­li­sions.

“And con­ges­tion can drive poor driver be­hav­iour. Peo­ple get frus­trated and an­gry and do dras­tic things,” Mr Turner said.

The three sec­tions of the M1 – from the Gate­way Mo­tor­way merge to the Lo­gan River; Lo­gan River to Smith St; and Smith St to the NSW bor­der – have been rated the three worst routes in Queens­land for ac­ci­dent risk by the Aus­tralian Road As­sess­ment Pro­gram. All three also fea­ture in the worst 10 across the na­tion.

Be­tween 2012 and 2016, 1131 ca­su­alty crashes oc­curred on the 79km stretch, in­clud­ing 17 deaths. That was de­spite the fact the three sec­tions all score highly for in­her­ent de­sign and safety fea­tures.

“The M1 is a bril­liant road. It is sim­ply strug­gling un­der the sheer vol­ume of traf­fic us­ing it,” Mr Turner said. “It’s a ma­jor part of the na­tional high­way net­work – link­ing the third- and sixth-largest cities in the coun­try – but it is also a com­muter route.

“It is un­der stress and strain. We con­tinue to see huge pop­u­la­tion and den­sity growth at each end of it.

“It’s a vi­cious cy­cle. Ev­ery crash im­pacts ev­ery driver on that road. It’s not only about the tragic loss of life and in­juries, but it shuts down a ma­jor high­way,” Mr Turner said.

Con­struc­tion of a $200 mil­lion project to im­prove the M1/Gate­way merge at Eight Mile Plains and Rochedale South will be­gin af­ter April’s Com­mon­wealth Games, and work is un­der way on a $180 mil­lion widen­ing of the mo­tor­way be­tween Mudgeer­aba and Var­sity Lakes.

Dur­ing Novem­ber’s state elec­tion cam­paign, La­bor com­mit­ted $206 mil­lion towards widen­ing the Var­sity Lakes to Tu­gun sec­tion – mak­ing the mo­tor­way at least six lanes all the way to the bor­der – as long as the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment funds the rest of the $1 bil­lion cost.

But the Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment re­fused to match an LNP prom­ise to build a four-lane al­ter­na­tive to the M1 along a re­served 36km cor­ri­dor be­tween Nerang and Stapyl­ton.

The RACQ says the M1 up­grades, the new road, and im­proved pub­lic trans­port are all needed to keep up with de­mand.

Speed lim­its will be low­ered on the M1 from March 1 as part of pre-Com­mon­wealth Games mea­sures but will re­vert to nor­mal on April 17.

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