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Is a head-on collision on this stretch of road in Orange inevitable?

The crest on approach from the CBD. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes

It almost happened on Saturday.

For reasons I'm not entirely sure of, a motorist in a ute was driving - like so many others on this busy urban thoroughfare - down the middle of the road. And actually drifting well onto the other side.

The stretch of road where Peisley Street becomes Heatherbrae Parade, as you head from the CBD towards north Orange, does not have dividing lines.

The grey lines indicate the middle of the unmarked road. The white vehicle represents the ute, and the yellow vehicle the car coming the other way. Orange News Examiner Art Department.

In fairness, it's a reasonably wide road, and motorists shouldn't have a great deal of difficulty staying in their own half. Even when cars are parked on the road on both sides, there is plenty of room to give them a wide berth and still drive to the rules.

I've watched plenty of drivers drift to the centre and beyond as soon as they turn from Anson Street into Heatherbrae Parade on the northern side of town, near Brendon Sturgeon Oval, and on Heatherbrae Parade after the roundabout at Dalton Street when heading north. The entire stretch of road is unmarked.

These drivers sit in the centre and then, when a car approaches from the opposite direction, drift back to their side, then drift back to the middle - or beyond - as soon as they've passed.

Mostly, I suppose, there is no great danger, as most of the cars driving illegally can see others coming and adjust to avoid head-on collisions. And the speed limit is only 50km/h, though many exceed this.

However there is a crest near the corner of Margaret Street where cars heading towards the city can't see what's coming the other way. And vice versa.

A car approaching the crest from the northern part of town. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

On Saturday morning I was sat behind the aforementioned ute as it made its way south.

I had an uneasy feeling as the driver approached the crest on the wrong side of the road. As it happened, a car was coming the other way. The ute driver suddenly and violently jagged his vehicle left after spotting the approaching vehicle at the last second and the two cars narrowly avoided a head-on collision.

And do you know what happened next? The driver of the ute, seemingly not in the least bit chastened by the near accident, just drifted back to the wrong side of the road.

The white markers on Anson Street. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

Maybe it's time for dividing lines or those small white flappy things, just to let the spatially challenged know where they're at.

According to Transport NSW: "In a head-on crash between two vehicles, there is a 95 percent chance that a driver or passenger will survive at 60km/h, 90 percent chance at 70km/h, and a 20 percent chance at 90 km/h."

No statistics are given for head-on crashes at 50km/h.

Have you seen this type of driving around Orange? Let us know at our Facebook page or email


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