16 December 2022

'Zero road toll along the Kings': NSW and ACT police unite to prevent serious injury and death this summer

| Claire Fenwicke
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ACT Road Policing Acting Inspector Ken Williams, ACT Road Policing Det Leading Snr Const Al Mills, NSW Police Chief Insp Brian Pedersen and NSW Police Act Sgt Nick Richardson launching the 14th year of the Kings Highway Partnership. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

Fuelling up and making sure you’ve remembered to pack your swimmers are all part of planning a trip down to the South Coast.

But have you thought about avoiding peak travel periods or where you’re going to stop to make sure you arrive alive?

ACT and NSW Police are joining forces for the 14th year of the Kings Highway Partnership, increasing visibility along the popular stretch of road to make sure everyone makes it to their holiday destinations safely.

There have already been two fatal crashes on the Kings Highway this year – a teenage boy near Bungendore in October and a truck driver in Nelligen in March – along with 17 serious collisions.

Police don’t want to see any more over the summer holidays.

“We want to see this as a fatality-free and injury-free period,” NSW Police Chief Inspector Brian Pedersen said.

“Zero road toll along the Kings – that’s our main goal. We’re not out to spoil people’s fun, we just want to keep people safe.”

READ ALSO Drugs found in half of all drivers involved in fatal crashes this year

The Kings Highway stretch from Queanbeyan to Batemans Bay is popular with Canberrans, and those from other inland areas such as Wagga Wagga, heading to the coast.

It’s at least a two-hour drive from the Territory, which makes fatigue a major concern.

“We have a lot of people travelling from the ACT to the coast. A lot of them spend all day at work, jump in the car with the kids and head off to the beach. They get halfway along, start to get very, very tired and start making silly mistakes,” Chief Insp Pedersen said.

“There’s no reason to try and get to the coast as quick as you can. The beach is still going to be there. I’d rather see people be a little bit later than not get there at all.”

Police will also be targeting driver distraction and speeding on both sides of the border.

“It doesn’t matter which side of the border you’re on, NSW Police and ACT Policing will be detecting all poor driving behaviours,” ACT Road Policing Acting Inspector Ken Williams said.

“The message to drivers is very simple – slow down. If you speed, you should expect to get caught and face the consequences.”

speed detection van

All motorists are being urged to ‘drive safe’ on the Kings Highway. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

Motorists have also been advised to expect to add some extra time to their trip, with road works occurring in many sections of the Kings Highway throughout summer.

Transport for NSW representative Fiona McLauchlan said safety upgrades were happening, along with pothole patching and repairs.

“Give yourself the time and space to arrive safely,” she said.

Ms McLauchlan said drivers should take extra care on the Clyde Mountain pass.

“It’s important to pay attention. It’s a pretty tricky stretch for some drivers,” she said.

“Overall, I encourage people to plan their trip and think about where to stop on the way.”

READ ALSO Canberrans urged to expose the Territory’s worst – and best – roads following pothole-littered year

Local businesses would also thank you for taking the time to pause your trip and spend some money during your journey following years of struggling in the wake of bushfires and COVID-19 restrictions.

Queanbeyan-Palerang councillor Mareeta Grundy said places to stop included Bungendore, Braidwood and Nelligen, and rest stops along the highway.

“There’s a number of options to break up your journey and not do it in one big hit,” she said.

“Bringing money into these towns is vital. I’d be encouraging everyone to stop and do spend a bit of money in these townships.”

Drivers are reminded to:

  • Plan your trip before you leave
  • Don’t drive tired – be aware of your fatigue level
  • Make sure your car is road-ready by checking tyres, windscreen wipers, lights and indicators and oil and water levels
  • Don’t exceed the speed limit
  • Leave a three-second gap between you and the car ahead.

Drivers towing caravans and boats are urged to be especially cautious and slow down during the holiday period, with other motorists reminded to be patient.

Extra NSW Police officers will also be deployed into Highway Patrol and the Far South Coast, Hume and Illawarra areas as part of Strikeforce Summer Safe.

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Sure, they need to enforce speed limits (can’t just let people drive at whatever speed they want), but from observation, I really don’t think speeding is the biggest risk on that road. How about people overtaking when it’s not safe (or legal), and people who can’t stay in their lane around a bend (I’ve often had to move into the shoulder to avoid people coming the other way straddling the double lines – usually in cars that should be able to handle a bend).

It would be good if people who don’t have a clue about driving on a country road, got some common sense. In other words, leave space for a faster car to overtake safely one car at a time and not speeding up when you reach an overtaking lane.

William Newby11:41 pm 17 Dec 22

So we can expect the highway patrol to be waiting at the end of all FOUR overtaking lanes between Queenbeyan and Batemans bay this summer.
Fix the road, don’t just fine the drivers for trying to overtake those who sit on 80km for the entire trip! SLOW drivers are the greatest risk on this road, not the ‘speedsters’.

*If all motorcyclists operate like these police officers did on Friday morning while riding their bikes to this photo shoot we will certainly see a lot more road fatalities this summer. Stopping in the middle of the road without warning they both nearly got clipped by a truck, three cars tooted at them, then they then sped off through the road works (80k zone) both were well over the speed limit, they then turned right off the highway straight into the parking bay for this photo op. Clearly they had no valid reason for their speed on this occasion. Practice what you preach!

William Newby10:29 am 18 Dec 22

*Correction it was Thursday morning.

William Newby10:32 am 18 Dec 22

*Correction it was Wednesday 14th about 10am.

Practice what you preach! That’s a good one! On some of those rare occasions of actually seeing a Police vehice on ACT roads, I’ve calibrated my speedometer by trying to keep up with ACT Police vehicles (obviously not when they’re under lights and sirens) and I’ve found that my speedometer consistently under-reads by 20km/h.
This is ACT Police leading by example.

Toni Fairbairn2:29 pm 17 Dec 22

I have stopped using the Kings Highway between Queanbeyan and Bungendore as I was constantly harassed and tailgated while doing the speed limit I now use an alternate route which is longer, but I feel is safer. The excessive speeds and illegal and unsafe overtaking on this road is appalling. I have not seen any deterrents and I travelled this route at least twice week. I honestly felt I would become another road statistic after a close call with someone overtaking on a crest.

Stephen Saunders6:18 am 18 Dec 22

It’s just Straya, Toni. Unless the bloke can overtake you immediately, he’ll feel intense shame, and lose his virility.

The road doesn’t help either. It’s a parable of Strayan infrastructure. A ruined 19th century bullock-track, but every so often, there are 8 or 9 figure “improvements”.

The power of perception. I cannot think of another route Queanbeyan to Bungendore that is safer for the reasons you describe.

Toni Fairbairn8:48 am 19 Dec 22

I get tailgated less on Captains Flat Road. I have front and rear dash cameras and that has helped. And I drive at the speed limit. Sad that we have people taking risks with not only their own lives but those of others.

Here’s a tip. Fix the road. Those potholes that keep appearing on the shoulders wont be fixed by just tipping some bitumen in them. Those potholes just reappear a few days later. Do a proper job

Have you driven the road recently? Potholes on the shoulder are the least of your worries when there are entire sections of road that are completely missing

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