A “BLIND spot” created by a north-bound Greyhound bus pulling into Matilda service station was the likely cause of a fatal crash at the intersection in which Coles Creek teenager Brad Garard was killed on Sunday.
Freelance television cameraman Greg Forward was at the scene south of Gympie shortly after the collision and spoke with both the bus driver and the driver of the prime mover which struck Mr Garard’s car as it attempted to turn right from the service station into the south-bound lane of the Bruce Highway.
From those conversations and information he received from Matilda staff and witnesses, Mr Forward felt confident enough to say that the young man’s vision of the B-double truck was blocked by the bus.
“The young guy pulled up at the stop sign and didn’t see the truck. He would have seen the indicator on the bus and thought he was right to go,” he said.
Road safety expert Graham Smith said Sunday’s collision was typical of “that kind of intersection” and “precisely the type” his daughter was lucky to survive at the same spot nearly 10 years ago.
“Crashes like this are very common at this type of intersection,” he said. “The young man’s attention would’ve been on the turning bus.
“It’s a very common problem for young drivers. They react to what they see but it is very difficult for them to perceive obscured dangers — which are temporary. The main thing we’ve got to do is start educating children about road safety when they are little. At that time you can change a young person’s visual perception.”
Associate fellow of the Australasian College of Road Safety Graham Smith said as far as the black spot intersection was concerned, there was only one thing that could make it safer other than the highway bypass.
He said entry to the service station needed to be shifted further south so vehicles were not coming in and out of the same entrance.
“We can’t always have four-lane highways and separate intersections. What we do need is a new philosophy of road building,” Mr Smith said.
“Australia has followed the American philosophy of road building which is to move traffic more quickly and efficiently. In the past 10 to 15 years, Europeans have increased the emphasis on road safety. European engineers think in terms of safety when our engineers think in terms of fast, efficient traffic flow.”
Mr Garard’s Hyundai Lantra sedan was hit by a Kenworth prime mover and pushed about 30 metres into a light pole. He died at the scene from severe head and chest injuries. He was only 19 years old.
Mr Smith said young people needed to participate in graduated programs right through from early childhood to when they get their licence and beyond.
“It is extraordinarily difficult to teach young people those abstract concepts of imagining things they can’t see.
“Brain scientists say that learning to walk is the hardest thing a person will ever learn to do and now they are saying driving a motor vehicle is the second most difficult thing to do.”
In the 25 years he has been teaching people to drive, Mr Smith has warned all of his students to never to trust the indicators on a turning vehicle, but wait until the vehicle committed to the turn.