Local road is highway to hell as death toll revealed

IT'S the gateway to the state's economic powerhouse responsible for the transport of mega earth moving equipment and tens of thousands of miners but the Peak Downs Highway has also been called a highway to hell. In the past 10 years, 49 people lost their lives on the road. There were 444 people who ended up in hospital and 613 more people treated for minor injuries.

The road connects the Bowen and Galliee basins to ports in Mackay and carries tens of thousands of miners, families and heavy haulage equipment along its 264km. Statistics from the Department of Transport and Main Roads show the most prolific cause of crashes on the highway was distraction.

Scene of a single-vehicle fatal crash at the base of the Eton Range in December 2019.

A 55-year-old man was the sole occupant which left the Peak Downs Highway about 5km west of Eton. The cause of the crash is not known.

A combination of fatigue and distraction is the most common cause of fatal crashes. The most deadly stretch of the highway passes through the Isaac community of Copabella.

Support worker Rosanne Jensen Bryers travels the road six times a week. She said a combination of bad behaviour and poor road conditions made the road dangerous. She said traversing the road without a four-wheel drive was difficult due to the number wide load as there was nowhere to pull off safely to let them pass, she said.

Also creating danger on the road, Ms Jensen Bryers, said was the speed and attitude of miners going too and from work. "Mine vehicles overtake uphill, downhill and round corners - they're not obeying markers on the road ...

110km/h seems to be the unofficial road speed," she said. "The other thing is too many people are on their phones." Ms Jensen Bryers said while the road's conditions were "okay" they were not suited to the amount of heavy and industrial loads using the road.

She said stretches of the road around Nebo were in such poor shape you could see trucks "bumping" along as they drove.

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