Road safety

Wollondilly and Wingecarribee Shire councils advocated for road safety months before the Buxton crash

Council officials from the area where five teenagers died in a horrific car crash wrote to state parliament months ago to plead for lower speed limits on country roads.

Wollondilly Shire Council – the local government area where the five teenagers went to school – and Wingecarribee Shire Council, where the crash happened, both wrote to Parliament in July warning of unsafe conditions on local roads.

Wollondilly said in its submission to a rural road safety inquiry that officials struggled to enforce speed limits on its “narrow… winding… unpaved” roads where “mature trees (line) the edges of the road”.

A council transport official said the practice of imposing a default speed limit of 100km/h on rural roads where there are no signs was no longer appropriate.

“A lot of these limits were put in place a long time ago when vehicles weren’t as technologically advanced as they are today or capable of going at speeds that we can now comfortably drive,” Norma said. Toweel at the inquest Thursday morning.

The hearing was scheduled weeks ago, but Tuesday’s tragedy in Buxton weighed heavily on the proceedings.

The vice-chairman of the committee, Wollondilly MP Nathaniel Smith, was notably absent, choosing instead to spend time in the community where the five teenagers lost their lives.

Mr Smith attended a suicide prevention breakfast organized with the non-profit ‘RU OK’ in Victoria Park in Picton on Thursday morning.

Finance Minister Damien Tudehope and Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello were also present, and a minute’s silence was observed for the victims of the accident.

“It was dark, people are hurting and doing it hard,” Mr. Smith told NCA NewsWire.

“There’s a lot of shock right now.”

Mr Smith said that although he could not comment on the circumstances of the crash as it is now in court, he had called on fellow government MPs to convert some regional roads to national roads.

That way, he said, councils would get more help to maintain them.

“Local roads are horrible in both councils,” Mr Smith said.

“That’s why I’m calling on the state government to take over some regional roads so councils can invest more in regional roads.

“They spend so much money looking after major regional arteries and don’t have the core funding to look after local roads.

Councils are responsible for local and regional roads, but receive state support to maintain regional roads. Five students from Picton Secondary School aged 14 to 16 died in Tuesday night’s crash, which left the remains of a smashed Nissan ute strewn across a local tree-lined road in Buxton.

A sign near the crash site on East Parade said the speed limit was 60 km/h.

The alleged driver and sole survivor, Tyrell Edwards, 18, was charged on Wednesday with five counts of dangerous driving resulting in death.

Police will consider speeding as a “possible factor” behind the crash as investigations continue.