Goodaye all. A couple of years ago we had an issue at Boggabilla with young locals throwing rocks at trucks as they went through the village. It is a 50 KPH zone and we have to slow to do a 90 degree turn at the Wobbly Boot pub as part of the Newell Highway. The vent on the side of the TIV still bears the scar from a rock. One elderly car driver had his windscreen smashed and then hit a pole and a truck driver got glass in his eye and was taken to hospital and they are two serious events I was told of, though I also heard of many others where rocks were thrown at trucks.
Boggabilla was a problem with the local Police station being across the road from where it was happening, but not always manned and though the Qld Police are only 10 minutes away in Goondiwindi, the closest NSW Police are in Moree, over an hour away, so reporting it got it listed, but little else done. I rang industry associations and they too spoke with Police and I tried the Gundi paper with no responce.
The problem seemed to move to Moree when the bypass was opened. A long fence was put up along the train line which now paralleled the highway, but the locals seem to have a problem with the fence and not only keep cutting holes in it, they also have a large supply of railway ballast rocks to throw at trucks while they hide behind the shrubs. By the time we pull up, they have bolted into the dark. Two weeks ago a northbound driver called me up saying they were at it again, his truck had been hit by a rock, so I asked had he rang the Police? He was about to pull up and check for damage and would ring then.
Last week as I was having tea at Bellata, another driver told me he had his left hand window smashed on his way through Moree, he had rung the Police and reported it, but now had glass all through his bedding, could not secure the truck, would lose hours getting it fixed and could have been hit in the head by the rock, if he had not had the window up. When this first started to happen, I again rang industry associations, they contacted Police higher up and were told there would be a campaign in the schools etc. I contacted RMS, as they had built the road and my understanding was that some funding would be made available to light the section, so the throwers could not hide in the dark and the fence would be fixed.
Not only do the locals keep cutting the fence, they smash some of the lighting there now and all are frustrated, Police, RMS, council etc, but they of course, are not getting rocks thrown at them. Unless Mr Trump comes here and builds a wall, it is not possible to get rid of all the rocks, the lighting has not been improved and the shrubs are now big enough for a man to hide behind, let alone a few kids. I have suggested to RMS to at the least, remove the shrubs so we can see anyone there and to fix and extend the lighting, but the ARTC “own” the verge and the shrubs and we all know how quickly government bodies are to act on such important matters.
What have we done to deserve having our lives at risk doing our job and driving on a national highway? It is bad enough with uneducated car drivers trying to kill us each week, but now we even have kids against us. Years ago we had a truck driver tragically killed by someone who threw a rock off an overpass, it was not the first event, but thankfully to my knowledge, the only death and now, all overpasses are fenced.
What can be done to stop this stupidity, who will act before a driver is killed by a rock and who will be responsible if it does happen? How can people get away with it and why are trucks the target? If you have been affected, what have you done and who have you reported it to. We cannot touch them, even if we could catch them, so what will be done to stop this? Safe Travelling, Rod Hannifey.