Truck drivers not the issue, Katter says, increase of road trains is the danger on Barkly Highway | Ralph-Lauren

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After a rise in fatalities on north-west Queensland roads, police have urged drivers to be careful, especially on the Barkly Highway between Mount Isa and Cloncurry.

Senior Sergeant Rob Maragna said the highway can be “challenging”.

“There has been a significant, fatal traffic incident towards Cloncurry, then we’ve had a number of hit and run incidents,” he said.

“We’ve have seven all up in the district, but a number of those have been on the Barkly.”

He said a number of crashes and near misses are particular to the Cloncurry-Mount Isa stretch.

“I think it’s the way that the road is designed,” Senior Sergeant Maragna said.

“Some of the victims on that road and some of the people that are involved in these crashes aren’t necessarily used to the conditions on that particular stretch of road.”

A photo of a green State highway sign, Cloncurry 116km, Townsville 906km.
The Barkly Highway stretch Mount Isa-Cloncurry.(ABC North West Queensland: Kelly Butterworth)

He said after the straight stretch of Townsville-Cloncurry, some drivers are unprepared for the Cloncurry-Mount Isa stretch.

“Very much the road is unfortunately designed with the topography in place.

“I’ve been doing crash forensics for 16 years now [and] there’s always a cause of a crash.

“I’ve travelled that road many times and if you stick to the conditions, the speed limit, the conditions at the time of yourself and your vehicle, there is no problems with that road.

“If you are impatient or you haven’t planned your trip correctly … it can be daunting.

“But in saying that I cannot criticise the road. It is a perfectly good road to travel on.”

Politician calls for road train changes

State member for Trager, Rob Katter, said he believed some issues with the Barkly Highway stemmed from road train traffic.

A photo of a long highway with hills in the back. Vehicles drive on the road.
The Barkly Highway stretch Mount Isa-Cloncurry can be busy with boats, caravans, and road trains.(ABC North West Queensland: Kelly Butterworth)

“The trucks themselves are safe, and the majority of truck drivers are very safe, how they drive. But it’s the volume that’s on there,” Mr Katter said.

“The volume of trucks has increased as the rail volume has decreased.”

Mr Katter said mining companies are using roads instead of rail to transport ore.

“When you have a larger volume of anything it disrupts and creates problems.

“I think that the government has really not been clear about that, and there’s a lack of transparency on the volume that’s going across the Barkley Highway onto the Flinders Highway, all the way to the port and Townsville.

“And that’s because they don’t want to fix that rail line.”

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