IT is the road that has attracted millions of dollars in upgrades, had speed limits reduced, and been a target for police operations and public campaigns.
But Ruttleys Road, the thoroughfare that connects the west and east at the southern end of Lake Macquarie, continues to be a place of carnage and tragedy.
A Wyee Point man, 37, became the ninth person to be killed on the road in less than nine years when his four-wheel drive crossed to the incorrect side of Ruttleys Road and into the path of a truck on Monday morning.
It was just six months after an elderly couple were killed when their car crashed off the road and into a ditch.
The NSW Centre for Road Safety confirmed on Tuesday that there had been 28 crashes on Ruttleys Road between 2011 and last year with 20 reported casualties, including four deaths and six people seriously injured.
Police and community leaders remain at a loss to explain the continued carnage, with more than $10 million spent on Ruttleys Road since 2010 between the NSW government and the two councils which it runs through - Lake Macquarie and Central Coast.
A Roads and Maritime Services spokesman said a $2 million upgrade on Ruttleys Road last year included removing roadside vegetation, installing safety barriers as well as more warning signs and guide posts. The road was also resurfaced.
Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper, who has driven along the road for decades, said crashes in the past may have been exacerbated by road conditions, but acknowledged the improvements.
“I think it is part of the nature of the road; and every one of these is so tragic, It is just a puzzle, what is going on,’’ Mr Piper said.
Acting Northern Region traffic tactician, Chief Inspector Steve Rudd said highway patrol officers regularly travelled along the road as part of their duties.
“I don’t know what the answer is, I don’t know if there actually is an answer. It has come to a point where drivers may have to look at whether their abilities are good enough to drive on our roads,’’ he said.
The speed limit at Wyee Point was reduced from 70kmh to 60kmh in May, although Monday’s accident occurred in the 80kmh zone.
NSW Centre for Road Safety executive director, Bernard Carlon, said the crash was “a very sad reminder of how vulnerable we all are on the roads’’.
“Every death on our roads is one too many and our message to everyone is to look out for each other, be vigilant, patient, and make responsible decisions,’’ Mr Carlon said.
“When it comes to road safety and driving the road toll Towards Zero, it's up to all of us to play our part.’’