As a motorist who has been driving along the New England Highway for the last 10 years, I have been noticing with concern the tendency to expand development along the highway, and the increasing span of reduced speed zones, particularly those introduced in July 2012.
I would estimate that the commute time between Singleton and Newcastle has been increased by 25 per cent between 2002 and 2012 to the point where the New England Highway is becoming somewhat less effective as a highway.
As a direct consequence, motorists are now taking to country highways through places like Lambs Valley, Stanhope and Elderslie in unprecedented numbers.
Most drivers, I believe, do not realise how treacherous these roads are.
They also, I believe, do not realise that if they were to have an accident out there, they are a long way from help – and that it would be volunteer members of the RFS (like myself) that would be called upon to rescue them.
The country roads out there are not built for such traffic volumes, and volunteer emergency units are not as well equipped to deal with car accidents.
Furthermore, council moves to reduce speeds to 80km/h on these back roads, are in no way comforting.
Because survival on country highways has more to do with cornering speed, driver skill and awareness of road conditions.
Most country folk know that a collision at 80km/h is as equally fatal as one at 100km/h, and what is most alarming is that these volumes of urban commuters do not drive to conditions – and are oblivious to the dangers!
So it would seem that collective council attempts to improve public safety on the New England Highway have only made matters worse.