Truckies who lose control on the notorious South-Eastern Freeway into Adelaide later this month are expected to drive into the back of a stationary rigid.
While extensive road works are taking place on the down track, the usual arrestor bed area at the bottom of the hill will be closed for approximately three weeks from the end of February.
Steve Shearer, head of the South Australian Road Transport Association, said that if out-of-control truckies don’t commit to the truck-mounted attenuator to stop their progress, the results could be catastrophic for other motorists.
“There’s no where else for the trucks to go other than straight through the intersection and lights if they get into grief,” said Shearer.
“Even though 99.999 per cent do not have a problem, that one in one-thousandth per cent can kill multiple people and has in the past.”
With the opening stages of roadworks in the area kicking off this weekend, a nervous Shearer is frantically trying to get the message out there to the industry about the changes ahead.
He said SA authorities tried to assuage his concerns by telling him there would be plenty of signs on the road to alert truckies to the closure of the arrestor bed from February 28.
“But you don’t start looking for signs when your truck is out of control,” said Shearer.
“The biggest help they’ll get will probably be other drivers on the CB radio.”
Shearer’s awarness drive also includes having an attenuator on display for truckies to get familiar with at the official opening of the new SARTA HQ on February 13.
He understands that the safety equipment is built to absorb the impact of a fully-loaded semi travelling at 100km/h.
More than 650,000 trucks descend the busy South-Eastern every year, and Shearer said the road works are sorely needed to future-proof the surface there.
But he doesn’t believe it’s practical, or necessary, to divert all the heavy vehicle traffic through an alternative route during the upgrades, providing the necessary awareness steps are taken.
“If every truck driver gets it right and they’re in the correct low gear for that load they’re carrying, and travelling at 40km/h or less, depending on their load, there should not be any issues,” he said.
“The attenuator will have cost a lot of money to be there and not be needed, but you’ve got to have it there just in case.”