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Horror road in need of multimillion upgrade

Date

Christopher Knaus

Drivers are being urged to behave on the road as Canberrans flock to the coast for the holidays.

Drivers are being urged to behave on the road as Canberrans flock to the coast for the holidays. Photo: Melissa Adams

Motoring groups have called for hundreds of millions of dollars to be poured into the notoriously dangerous Kings Highway, as police plead with coast-bound drivers to stop the holiday carnage.

The highway, labelled the most dangerous in south-eastern NSW, was the subject of an exhaustive safety review by the NSW Centre for Road Safety and Roads and Maritime Services this year.

That review was triggered by a horror Canberra Day long weekend of fatal crashes that left five people dead, including two children.

The NSW government handed over $5 million in its last budget to fix a number of dangerous spots along the road. But motoring groups have warned much more was needed to prevent the road from becoming a death trap for Canberrans descending on the south coast over the summer months.

The NRMA said upgrades to the road have not kept up with traffic volumes, and that $500 million was now needed to realign sections and upgrade passing lanes.

NRMA regional director Alan Evans said there was an ''enormous'' amount of work to be done to lessen the risks for those travelling to and from the coast.

''It's still one of the most dangerous roads in NSW,'' Mr Evans said. ''The traffic is increasing and therefore the risks are increasing, and you've got to do a lot more.

''I'm one of those people who won't go near the thing during Christmas, because I like living.''

The Kings Highway Road Safety Partnership, made up of NSW and ACT police, the NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust, and representatives from the Eurobodalla, Palerang and Queanbeyan City councils met on Friday in Bungendore to urge drivers to behave on the road.

Canberrans were the worst offenders on the highway last summer.

Thirty-nine per cent of 348 drivers booked for speeding over December and January were from Canberra.

Eight per cent of speeding drivers were from Queanbeyan, and 6 per cent were from Batemans Bay.

There were 40 crashes in the two months, killing one and injuring 36.

Police are planning a high visibility presence on the highway this year, and NSW Police has warned it will be putting extra cars on the road.

ACT Policing superintendent Kylie Flower said police were continuously frustrated by drivers choosing to ignore the carnage that occurred nearly every summer.

''The Canberra community are still not listening and heeding the message that you need to drive to the conditions, and you need to drive at an appropriate speed,'' she said. ''It's a different style of driving and a different type of driving, there's a lot of different factors on the road.''

ACT motorists are now liable to lose demerit points from their ACT driver's licence if booked by NSW Police. Legislative changes were passed in March. Police can also seize and impound any vehicle and its plates if caught speeding by 45km/h or more.

Mr Evans said there were cheap, simple measures that could be taken to improve the highway's safety considerably.

''We know how to make safe roads now, we just don't do it,'' he said. ''At times, it's not necessarily that high a cost … wire rope barriers, separations where you can. Not big things, at times, can markedly improve safety of the roads.''

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