McColl's gets the good and bad on highways

The Hume Highway has been named Australia’s best road and the Pacific Highway the worst

By Ruza Zivkusic| December 17, 2010

Some 500 truck drivers have shared their good and bad experiences in a survey undertaken by McColl’s Transport, with more than a third of them describing the Pacific Highway as the most daunting in the country, followed by the Newell and Stuart highways.

The nationwide survey, which targeted drivers with an average of 23 years’ experience, found 87 percent of them thought the Hume Highway was the best, followed by the M7 and the Murray Valley Highway.

McColl’s CEO Simon Thornton says the federal and state governments needed to take action to improve the Pacific Highway.

Victorian Transport Association (VTA) Deputy CEO Neil Chambers expressed no surprise over the highways’ rating.

"The Victorian and the federal governments spent significant dollars on the Hume Highway, particularly in the Victorian sections for a long time, so (the fact that it’s the best) is not surprising," Chambers says.

"The VTA and other industry associations keep lobbying the NSW Government and the Federal Government to explain them the problems of the Pacific Highway.

"If the road conditions are bad then it contributes to heavy vehicle driver fatigue and it also contributes to road trauma and accidents; the transport industry suffers as a result of that because if the light vehicle hits the heavy vehicle we know who comes off worse and in many cases it’s the fault of the smaller vehicle," he says.

But Chambers has welcomed the NSW Government’s acknowledgement of the Pacific Highway. It has also promised to invest a record $4.7 billion building and maintaining critical road infrastructure across the state.

Some $871 million will be spent on the Pacific Highway, which represents almost 19 percent of the entire NSW roads budget.

The overall budget is an increase of $300 million on last year’s record budget and the key features are $2.2 billion to build new roads, $1 billion for maintenance of the state’s existing roads and $336 million in improvements to the traffic network.

Meanwhile, more than 5000km are covered by the average McColl’s Transport driver each week, who have witnessed many unusual things along the roads.

"Cars driving up the wrong side of the motorway and a barbecue strapped to a motorbike rider are amongst the strangest things our truck drivers have seen," Thornton says.

"Another jaw-dropper was a situation where four blokes had their arms out the window clutching onto a mattress that had been placed on the car’s roof."

Drivers believe motorists need to be better educated about how to share the roads with trucks, the survey has found.

"The festive season is underway and more drivers are taking to the roads so we urge motorists to consider trucks when driving," Thornton says.

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