Seven months ago, Peter Frazer was just an ordinary Blue Mountains dad. But that was before his 23-year-old daughter Sarah was killed when hit by a truck in a breakdown lane along the Hume Highway near Mittagong.
Sarah, 23, and the good samaritan that came to her aid, tow truck driver and father of four Geoff Clark, both died when a passing truck struck them alongside the Hume Highway. Her car had broken down on a narrow stretch of the highway, about two kilometres from the southern highlands town of Mittagong, and her car could fit only partially in the road’s shoulder.
“We cry every day,” said Mr Frazer. “We’ve been ripped apart by this but we had to make something good come from her death.”
Peter and his family have spent most of this year gathering 23,000 signatures to rally for safer roads.
“She was buried on the 23rd, she was 23 when she died and when we did the final count of signatures there was 23,000. I look for signs everywhere now and I’ll take that,” Mr Frazer said.
Last week NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay announced a package of measures to upgrade road safety, particularly along breakdown safety lanes, on major highways across NSW, after working closely with the Frazer family whose website campaign SARAH (Safer Australian Roads and Highways) led to the changes.
Some of the changes to law, making life safer for motorists, tow truck drivers and emergency services workers include:
• Closure of the 1.5km climbing lane on the stretch of the Hume Highway between Mittagong and Berrima where Sarah and Geoff were killed to provide a 3 m breakdown lane;
•Upgrades of the two existing bays at the site and longer term monitoring;
• A public education campaign on safety during breakdowns including encouraging the use of vests and safety triangles;
• Mapping of all roads in NSW with a speed limit of 80 km and over to determine the shoulder widths in the state that fall under the standard;
• Development of an online tool to enable all first call and emergency services vehicle operators to click on any given point and see the width of the shoulder;
• Updated tow truck industry safety training;
• Encouraging manufacturers to include safety triangles in cars;
• New tow truck standards for winching mechanisms to enable left hand side control.
Mr Frazer welcomed the package as a great response to his family’s campaign.
“We do not want other families to suffer and we are pleased with these new protections, not just for people driving but for all workers in the breakdown industry,” Mr Frazer said
“This package is a solid first step in addressing the problems that exist along our major roads, highways and freeways throughout the state. I didn’t think we would truly create road safety history but it looks like SARAH has.”
Mr Frazer said work still needed to be done in NSW on the Slow Down Move Over part of their campaign.
Mr Frazer spent the weekend firing off letters to other premiers around Australia.