The recent rain events that forced some road closures, in the Liverpool Plains Shire Council (LPSC) local government area, provided the opportunity to trial the effectiveness of new gates that have been installed on Gap Road near Werris Creek. Gap Road links the Kamilaroi Highway through to the Werris Creek Road. Further improved signage will be put in place in the coming weeks near the junctions of the roads to further inform motorists of the closures.
“Gap Road has become an increasingly important cross country link over recent years and experienced increasing numbers of road users. Unfortunately, during flood events there has been an increase in the number of people disregarding road closure signs. This has included incidence of people driving around them, physically moving them and even running over the top of them,” said LPSC Mayor, Councillor Doug Hawkins OAM.
“This is very dangerous behaviour that not only puts a motorist, and their passengers’ lives at risk but also if they need to be rescued inherently puts emergency service personnel at high risk,” he said.
“As little as 30cm of still floodwater is sufficient to float a small passenger vehicle, and 50cm for a 4WD. Moreover, drivers may be unable to see what lies beneath flood waters. Large sections of roads often deteriorate or wash away. Flash flooding events are considered even more dangerous to motorists and their passengers.
“Research carried out by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience highlights the fact that people entering floodwaters by vehicle constitutes a major cause of flood fatalities in Australia. Over a 20 year period over 80 people have died attempting to drive through floodwaters. The data shows that 35% per cent of these people were driving 4WDs. It may surprise many to learn that 48.5% per cent of flood deaths in Australia have been attributed to being vehicle-related incidents,” he continued.
“While these new gates will add to motorist safety on Gap Road during flood events, there are other roads within the Shire that are often impacted, and I urge motorists to obey road closure signs. There have been a number of incidents where emergency services have been called out in the middle of the night to rescue motorists and their vehicles stranded in water on local roads. Please remember it is illegal to drive through road closed signage. Not only can you put yourself and your passengers at risk, it also costs the community money when rescue operations have to be undertaken and puts the lives of emergency service teams in danger,” he said.
“At all times motorists need to drive to conditions so at any time if you encounter water across the road pavement or flowing through causeways please exercise caution and if in doubt please don't proceed. Always choose road safety,” Councillor Hawkins concluded.