A couple who were involved in a fatal crash at the intersection of Thompson Road and the Mitchell Highway earlier this month have joined other local residents in speaking out about the dangerous stretch of road and calling for more safety measures.
John Keegan, 15, was helping Stephen and Sue Doyle, whose car had been hit by a ute at the intersection on the outskirts of Orange, when a truck crashed into the two stopped vehicles on July 2.
"They [John and the driver] walked up to see how we were, I was talking to both of them on my right side through the door and the younger boy went around to the other side and Sue said 'look out! Truck,' there was an expletive in the middle and then bang, it was the loudest explosion I've ever heard, it was so loud, that's what I see every night," Mr Doyle said.
The couple have lived on Thompson Road for five years and this was the second time in six months that Mrs Doyle had been in a crash at the intersection after she was previously hit in February.
"They were both exactly in the same spot turning right," she said. "In the most recent one we were hit from behind ... that impact rendered us immobile and sort of pushed us over the line, and I have no memory of it whatsoever, I think I must have been blacked out but the truck came and hit us and pushed us off the road," she said.
She said it is still a difficult time for them and as a result of ongoing medical conditions caused by the crash neither she or Mr Doyle are cleared to drive anymore.
"We both had brain bleeds," Mr Doyle said. "I must say the hospital in Orange and the paramedics were excellent."
On Friday, the Doyles joined other residents and Member for Orange Phil Donato calling for the new 80km/h zone to be extended about one kilometre to the 50km/h zone on the outskirts of Orange.
Before the fatal crash in July the speed limit had been 100km/h. However, the residents said many trucks and cars are still not slowing for the new 80km/h zone.
They said coming out of Orange the 50km/h zone changes to 100km/h for 1.1 kilometres before slowing to 80 halfway down Ammerdown hill for the intersection. They want that stretch to be a consistent 80km/h to reduce the chance of drivers not noticing or heeding the speed change.
"The way the traffic is behaving is just appalling," Mr Doyle said citing speeding and tailgating as major issues.
"They come down the hill at 100km/h just off the top of Ammerdown, these are big trucks, 650 horsepower some of them and they hit the floor and they are flat chat ... similarly the trucks coming the other way they need to wind up so they can get up the very small grade but they don't like to lose any time."
This intersection is an intersection that has been problematic for a long time.Phil Donato
Mr Doyle said a life could have been saved had earlier warnings been heeded and he is urging Transport for NSW to fix the issue.
"They were told about it with a meeting we had with them [in March] that if you don't do this soon, you will find there will be a death," he said.
Mrs Doyle said following the meeting a sign was erected saying Thompson Lane in 350 metres but she was told there were problems with putting in a turning lane.
The residents and Member for Orange Phil Donato said Transport for NSW and government representatives had not acted on repeated calls for the government to do something to make the intersection safer before the fatal accident.
"This intersection is an intersection that has been problematic for a long time," Mr Donato said.
"It should be 80 from the outskirts of town, not 100 going back to 80 ... we've been calling on the road to be widened, there needs to be a designated slip lane and line marking appropriate to make sure vehicles coming down the hill can see and they are not distracted and they can see there are vehicles turning right into Thompson Road."
Transport for NSW western region director Alistair Lunn said the reduced speed zone on the Mitchell Highway near Thompson Road in Orange took effect on July 12 following a speed zone review by Transport for NSW.
"The speed limit is enforceable and will be in place until broader safety upgrade plans are finalised," Mr Lunn said.
"Transport for NSW has engaged NSW Police to monitor this section of road to ensure there is compliance with the new, reduced speed limit."
Mr Donato said he had written to NSW government representatives about the intersection on several occasions since August last year however in November a letter from Christopher Gulaptis, the Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Roads and Infrastructure, said there had only been one reported crash at the location in the past five years.
However, Cooey Tancred and Mick Ward said there have been other accidents.
"My concern is that in the last 10 months there's been three significant accidents here and now one fatality," Mrs Tancred said.
"There needs to be a better recording method and reporting method to Transport for NSW so they can determined what roads are dangerous and need improving."
Mrs Tancred was hit in August 2020 while waiting to turn right.
"I was hit from behind and into oncoming traffic and luckily I was narrowly missed from being hit by an oncoming semi-trailer, I climbed from my flipped car and got out without a scratch," she said.
"The police attended the scene and both cars were written off and everyone was OK.
"I was horrified the next day when I went to the police station and they had no record of my accident, they had told me that they didn't have to record the accident because an ambulance wasn't called, nobody was charged and the parties involved we all exchanged details."
She said Mrs Doyle was involved in a similar accident six months later, but again there's no record.
Mr Ward said he lives nearby and has seen or been informed of nine accidents at the intersection and is also calling for the 80 zone to be extended.
"You can't expect cars and trucks that have been driving it for years to notice that halfway down the hill they have to drop back to 80," Mr Ward said
He said he rendered assistance at the "traumatic" accident in July, and both the young driver of the ute and truck driver were in shock at the scene.
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