10 May 2023

Cape's worst week in a decade on the roads

| Samuel Davis
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Cooktown Police were made aware of the crashed vehicle – which is resting on its roof opposite Springvale Station on the Mulligan Highway – in the early hours of last Tuesday. When police attended the scene, there were no occupants there and the car’s registration plates had been removed.

AUTHORITIES are issuing a desperate plea to motorists on Cape York roads to drive safely following three deadly crashes and multiple serious accidents this month.

Two separate vehicle rollovers near Lakeland and Rossville proved fatal last week.

It comes after a Wujal Wujal man died on Homerule Road after a vehicle veered into Wallaby Creek on Friday, September 2.

With school holidays approaching, Weipa-based Senior Sergeant Warren Flegg said the rising road toll was alarming.

“It’s certainly not acceptable,” he said.

“Road deaths can happen anywhere. People need to start to take responsibility for their driving.

“Enough is enough.”

More than 200 people have died on Queensland roads this year with fears the state will reach its worst record in more than a decade.

Remarkably, the number could have been even higher after a man and woman were fortunate to walk away alive after a van rolled over on Shiptons Flat Road at Helenvale on September 6.

Cooktown officer in charge John McArthur said it was a lucky escape for the pair.

“The driver took evasive action to avoid an oncoming vehicle which had allegedly partially crossed onto the incorrect side of the road,” Senior Sergeant McArthur said.

“The van then partially rolled off the embankment, struck a large tree, and was then held up by vegetation.”

Senior Sergeant Flegg said witnessing the grief and sorrow families suffer following an accident was heartbreaking, no matter how long you’ve served.

“From a first responder point of view it’s something that we deal with much more than the general public,” he said.

“If you’re a police officer for 20 years, let’s say you witness two crashes a year.

“That’s potentially 40 fatalities you’ll have seen. Then there are the nurses, doctors and physios that have to help and support those that are injured.”

Some accidents stay with emergency service providers forever, the veteran officer said.

“It’s hard, especially when it involves young people,” Senior Sergeant Flegg said.

“Maybe you can’t contribute to society after the accident, earn an income or raise a family.

“It can ruin people’s lives.”

Later this year, the Weipa officer in charge will address Western Cape College students about potential dangers on Cape York roads.

“We have a mock traffic crash and then talk to students about why an accident might occur,” he said.

“The feedback we’re getting is that maybe Year 10 and 11 students who are just learning to drive should be a part of it too so that they understand the impact of drugs and alcohol.”

Driving to conditions, particularly during the wet season, was critical.

“We’re already starting to see some early rain so there are a lot of elements at play.”

“We’re coming up to school holidays which will be a busy time, too.”


QUEENSLAND Police say five behaviours contribute most significantly to deaths and serious injuries on our roads.

  • Speeding
  • Driving under the influence of substances (drugs/alcohol)
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Driving whilst fatigued
  • Driving while distracted (including mobile devices)

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