Inquest examines condition of road

EXACTLY where a driver lost control of his vehicle on a notorious stretch of the Bruce Highway near Coles Creek road intersection and the condition of that stretch of road were examined yesterday as an inquest into what caused the deaths of six people in three separate crashes continued.

Looking into the crash that claimed the lives of Moira Theresa McGreevy and her husband Glen Raymond McGreevy in January 2008, Coroner Maxine Baldwin was presented with a range of technical information from various reports on surface testing undertaken by the Department of Main Roads.

Skid resistance, road drainage, rut depth measurements, texture depth, road geometry, surface polishing and other variables in play on the morning of the crash between McGreevy’s out-of-control northbound Statesman and the southbound Isuzu truck, were examined.

Asked by counsel assisting the coroner Andrew Wallace if water on the road could have contributed to the crash, Justin Valks, principal investigator from Department of Main Roads said all crashes result from three major factors: environmental, driver and vehicle, but trying to isolate what may have contributed to a crash was difficult.

Speed, braking, acceleration, steering inputs, mechanical condition of vehicles were all factors involved, but he conceded that water on the road would certainly have had an impact depending on the degree of rain and the amount of water on the road.

“It would certainly contribute but we’ll never know; it depends on a lot of variables,” Mr Valks said.

A question mark hung over guttering depths in the southbound lane that at the time of the crash were nearing a depth where they required maintenance. It was pointed out to the court that the Statesman went out of control in the north-bound lane, where rutting was considered to be well under intervention levels.

Coroner Maxine Baldwin asked if the southbound rutting could have contributed to the driver of the Statesman not being able to recover from his spin out, given that he ended up on that side just prior to impact with the Isuzu.

Mr Valks said it was unlikely but rutting in the south-bound lane could have impacted on its recovery. The volume of traffic on the road was addressed with one recommendation looking at separating the opposing traffic streams by narrowing the lanes and having a wide painted median up the centre of the road. No remedial work was considered necessary by the crash committee other than cutting back of vegetation and addressing the rutting in the southbound lane.

The inquest continues.

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