Road deaths no surprise, says tourist

IT’S no surprise to German holiday-makers Roland Eberhard and Kirsten Schwoerer that an alarming number of foreigners have died on Central Queensland roads this year.

Police said seven international visitors had been killed along the stretch of the Bruce Highway between Rockhampton and Mackay, and they included the death of South Korean tourist Chang Suk Oh at Clairview on Friday.

While the region’s top traffic officer, Inspector Mike Curtin, knows what’s causing the problem, his battle is getting the message out to visitors in a bid to save lives.

Yesterday, as partners Roland and Kirsten pulled into the Beef Capital in their brightly decorated camper van for a steak and a break before heading further north, they said many tourists, in particular Asians, often tried to jam “crazy (numbers of) kilometres” into a short period of time.

“They often only have about 10 days annual holidays, so they jam-pack their trips,” Roland said.

The pair believes this isn’t the only contributing factor, but the changing traffic conditions in Australia, wildlife on the roads, long distances between towns and having to make the switch from one side of the road to the other also added to the challenge.

“I found the first day really frustrating and confusing,” Kirsten said.

The Germans, who are sharing their long drive ahead to Cairns, said it was important to plan their trip before jet-setting down under.

They plan to take it steady and only travel about 200-300km a day. They said it was hard to comprehend the long distances between Australian destinations.

“We are taking it slowly over the next two weeks and we try to follow trucks,” Roland said.

“At first we were going to drive from Melbourne to Cairns, but it wasn’t long before we worked out it was much too far.”

Central region traffic co-ordinator acting Inspector Mike Curtin said there had been an alarming 52 deaths across the region this year and seven of those were international tourists.

He confirmed Friday’s fatality was fatigue-related and said in most instances fatigue was the number one killer.

“We have identified a problem with tourists landing in Cairns, who are probably fatigued from their flight, and then they become users of our roads where in some instances it has resulted in fatalities,” Inspector Curtin said.

He said although fatigue couldn’t be measured, motorists needed to take care and not push travelling times.

“Road users need to drive to the conditions. A lot of internationals aren’t used to driving on our side of the road and don’t know about the wildlife on the roads.”

With the approach of the festive season, police would ramp up their presence to focus on the fatal four – fatigue, speeding, drink driving and wearing of seatbelts – on the Bruce Highway and other major routes in the central region.

Friday’s accident which resulted in the death of Mr Suk Oh, happened on the Bruce Highway near Clairview, 220km north of Rockhampton.

The two surviving people, aged 24 and 35, were flown to Mackay Hospital.

It’s believed the van they were travelling in veered from the road and down an embankment and came to rest on its roof.

INTERNATIONAL FATALITIES

Death-related accidents on the Bruce Highway between Rockhampton and Mackay this year:

• A Korean tourist is dead and two others in hospital after the car they were in crashed north of Rockhampton on Friday;

  • A young Japanese tourist’s holiday turned to tragedy when she died in a single-vehicle crash about 150km north of Rocky on September 7. Three Korean men were also injured and taken to hospital;
  • Five tourists, including three Italians and two Canadians were killed in a horrific smash near Saint Lawrence on February 8. Only one Italian survived the tragic smash.



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