Roadside rest areas should be provided every 10 kilometres to help reduce driver fatigue and cut the road toll.
That’s the view of former advanced driver trainer Norm Bolitho who has begun a statewide campaign calling for areas to help motorists rest and use their mobile phones safely.
“Driver fatigues comes upon you quickly and needs immediate action,” he said.
“That action is to get off the road and rest, but to do so requires rest areas at frequent intervals.”
Police and rescue services have agreed with his concerns over driver fatigue.
Mr Bolitho is writing to the state government, Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), the NRMA and local authorities calling for action.
He said they needed to identify areas for rest areas and install signs.
Mr Bolitho said toilet facilities were not needed initially but the sites could be developed later.
“It can be done so cheaply using what we’ve got, we just need the signs,” he said.
“I identified six sites between Orange and Molong the other day that would be perfectly useable.”
He said sites used by the RMS for gravel dumps would fit cars and caravans while old re-alignments could take semi-trailers and cars.
“When they are doing the road re-alignments they could grade a rest area,” he said.
Fatigue is one of our biggest killers on the road. It happens very, very quickly.Norm Bolitho
“All those things should be on the agenda every time they do a road re-alignment.
“You need good signage before the areas so you can prepare yourself to pull off the road safely.
“They don’t have to be flash, the key is the signage.”
Mr Bolitho said government advertising campaigns warning about fatigue were good, but drivers needed more areas to use.
“We have very few of them particularly on our country roads,” he said.
“Fatigue is one of our biggest killers on the road. It happens very, very quickly.
“You can feel tired and all of a sudden your eyes are closed.”
Mr Bolitho said he drove 70,000 kilometres a year for his machinery business.
“I am well acquainted with the effects of driver fatigue and the need to urgently get off the road and rest but have struggled to find somewhere to do so.”
His call was backed by a rescue service worker who has attended more than 120 accidents in the region.
Lucknow RFS captain Mick Bloomfield said rest areas were needed near Orange.
“Absolutely, I’ve been an advocate for that for a long time,” he said.
“Two crashes out of 100 we have attended would be [caused by] speed and the rest would be fatigue and drugs and other things.”
He said the Mitchell Highway near Orange was a major area for car crashes and he had calculated the worst stretch.
“Between Dairy Creek Road and the Blayney turnoff there have been 6.8 car crashes per kilometre on that 10 kilometres,” he said.
Mr Bloomfield said many involved people driving for several hours.
“They get 5-10 kilometres out of Orange and then they go to sleep.”
Police Highway Patrol Orange supervisor Sergeant Mark Hevers said speed, fatigue and alcohol were the key factors in crashes.
He said drivers had to be more aware of the need to stop every two hours and take a break.
“If you go between [Orange] and Dubbo on the side of the road there are numerous [rest] areas but on the side roads like Burrendong Way there aren’t any,” Sergeant Hevers said.