Inquest into teen fatality
THE infamous Matilda intersection on the Bruce Hwy south of Gympie was cleared of responsibility for the death of Coles Creek teen Brad Garard in a coroner's report on the fatality yesterday.
Coroner Maxine Baldwin praised Main Roads in her findings for its push for Federal Government funding to upgrade the busy and dangerous Kybong intersection.
Nineteen-year-old P-plater Brad Adam Garard died from multiple injuries after trying to get back out on to the highway from the service station on May 2, 2010. His car was hit by a prime mover travelling behind a Greyhound coach that had turned into the site.
Brad's parents sat silently in Gympie Magistrates Court yesterday as Ms Baldwin read aloud the key points of her 30-page report.
"While the intersection at the time of Bradley's death was not perfect, it was within guidelines and was the most common design of intersection," she said.
Main Roads was "commended for its submission to the Federal Government which resulted in such remedial works being carried out (after Brad's death) while very few other areas - based on the evidence only one - have obtained such" upgrades.
The work had made the intersection as safe as it could be without an overpass, Ms Baldwin said.
"This is not an area conducive to dropping the speed limit (already lowered from 100kph to 80kpm)," she said of suggestions that could be an option.
In fact, evidence suggested lowering the speed limit further would simply change the type of crashes that occurred there.
Traffic lights would have the same effect, and were not recommended.
Evidence there was alcohol in Bradley's blood at the time of the crash, and speculation that he may have been using his mobile phone were both rejected.
The position of, and visibility from, the stop sign at the Matilda intersection were the main issues of contention, she said.
"There can be no doubt there was a blind spot but it was a passing blind spot, not a permanent obstruction and the onus is squarely placed on drivers to wait until the blind spot has passed and the road is totally clear.
"The remedial work done to separate the passing lane well back from the exit where the stop sign is located has gone some way to reducing the heavy onus put on drivers to ensure the road is clear before emerging."
In addressing the hearing last September, experienced Gympie police officer Sgt Vic Tipman said "under no circumstances would he stop for petrol (at the Matilda) if he was travelling south" as the exit was dangerous and left little margin for driver error.
"You had to have your wits about you" when driving through the area due to the traffic volume, oncoming vehicles, narrow, windy stretches and numerous side roads, he said.
A crash investigation after the fatality concluded the intersection complied with geometric design practices and site distance requirements.
Ms Baldwin said the Bruce Hwy would ultimately bypass the intersection and that disciplinary action was not recommended.