Bruce Hwy upgrade could pave the way for safer roads
THE Bruce Hwy upgrade between Gympie and Noosa could provide a template for cutting Queensland's road toll.
One third of people killed on Gympie's roads over about 14 years were killed on the Bruce Hwy.
Between January 2001 and March 2014, 110 people were killed on Gympie roads - 40 of them died in crashes on the Bruce Hwy.
But since 2011 only one person has died on the highway between Noosa and Gympie and none on the new section between Traveston Rd and Sankeys Rd - once a notorious stretch of road.
Most of the 110 deaths took place on the coast's major highways and thoroughfares including 12 people killed on the Tin Can Bay Rd and seven on the Wide Bay Hwy.
RACQ safety expert Steve Spalding said the Bruce Hwy upgrade showed the impact safe highways could have on the road toll.
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He said high speed limits and more traffic made highways much more dangerous than other roads.
"A road (upgrade) can make a difference. It is an important goal to have," he said.
But he said the upgrade changed a dangerous road into something that would save lives - and money.
"When you factor in the cost of fatalities and serious injuries to the community, which runs into the billions of dollars, suddenly the cost of upgrading a road becomes much less significant than it seems."
But Mr Spalding said no matter how good roads were, nearly all serious crashes involved driver error and some crashes could not be avoided.
The Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland's Dr Judy Fleiter said bad driving habits led to a lot of deaths on regional roads.
"If your experience of a lifetime's driving tells you that you can get from A to B with two hours sleep with nothing bad happening, then we think we can always do that," she said.
"I think we are eternal optimists. If it hasn't happened to you in the past we assume it won't happen ever. All it takes is for one roo to jump out, one truck to swerve, loose gravel where you don't expect it and you could crash."