Call out to shire to maintain roads

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A Maryknoll woman who is on crutches after a single-vehicle rollover crash in Kooweerup last week, is warning other residents to take care on “dangerous” pothole-ridden dirt roads across the shire.

Annette Monckton, had been driving south on Main Drain Road, Kooweerup, with her four children in the car – aged three to nine – when she reached a section of heavy corrugations in the dirt road about 11.45am on Monday 21 November.

She recounted to the Gazette how her four-wheel drive fishtailed and she lost control of the steering wheel, leading the car to hurl into the shoulder of the road.

The impact caused a tyre to blow out and the car flipped, skidding several metres while upside down before rolling at least three times.

The car came to a halt after rolling into a deep embankment, landing upright and facing the opposite direction.

Ms Monckton had been travelling 70km/h at the time of the crash, 30km/h under the 100km/h limit.

“It’s a miracle we’re all here. It was extremely frightening,” she said.

“While we were rolling, I was worried my nine-year-old Max, who was in the front seat, would be flung out the door. He was half hanging out of the car when we landed.

“His passenger door was completely ajar and we all climbed through that door to get out of the wreckage.

“Max sprained his ankle. One of my other boys said he couldn’t feel his leg at the time – but I think it was from the shock.

“Three windows smashed and I had deep lacerations on my foot. There was blood everywhere.”

Ms Monckton was hospitalised for two nights and may require surgery on her foot, while seven-year-old Harley, five-year-old Lexi and three-year-old Archie sustained some minor bruising.

A passer-by called the ambulance and police also attended the scene.

Ms Monckton and her children’s traumatic ordeal has motivated her to launch a Facebook page to raise awareness of “poorly maintained” roads across Cardinia Shire.

“Miraculously my four children and I escaped with minor injuries. But the next victims may not be so lucky,” Ms Monckton said.

“The council has to do something to fix and maintain dirt roads in this shire.”

Her husband, Mick, said he was surprised no one has died.

“Maryknoll dirt roads are just as bad, it’s an accident waiting to happen,” he said.

“You see people zooming by at 100km/h and, the thing is, they can because that’s the legal limit on a lot of these dirt roads.

“The council just doesn’t maintain these roads often enough to make them safe.

“I sometimes feel as though if you don’t live in Officer, you don’t matter.”

Cardinia Shire Council operations manager Charles Taveira said the council had received 16 requests in relation to the surface of Main Drain Road South over the past 12 months.

He said the section of road was graded “every four to eight weeks” on average.

“The section of Main Drain Road South in Kooweerup is proactively inspected once every four weeks in accordance with Council’s Road Management Plan,” Mr Taveira said.

“Any defects identified during these inspections are programmed accordingly for maintenance.

“Council are currently trialling different compaction techniques and equipment for its unsealed road maintenance to explore what best suits Cardinia conditions. The results of this trial are expected in 2017.”

Mr Taveira advised that residents could report road issues to the council by phoning 1300 787 624.

For more information, visit Ms Monckton’s Facebook page ‘Road Safety/Incident Awareness Page – Cardinia Shire’.

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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