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Grafton Bus Crash, Pacific Highway, NSW, 1989

Grafton Bus Crash, Pacific Highway, NSW, 1989

On 20 October 1989, a fully-loaded semi-trailer truck veered onto the wrong side of the Pacific Highway near Grafton, NSW, and collided with a Sunliner Express bus carrying 45 people. The truck tore the side off the bus and flung passengers onto the road. Twenty-one people died and a further twenty-two were injured, making it the most lethal road crash in Australia at that time.

An autopsy found the truck driver had excessively high levels of the amphetamine, ephedrine, in his system – around 80 times the prescribed level. Further investigations revealed that many Australian truck drivers were using amphetamines to stay awake on long-distance trips.

As a result of two inquests into the crash, drivers were banned from taking “stay awake” drugs; driving hours for truck and bus drivers were regulated; the design standards and safety equipment on long-distance buses and trucks were reviewed; and proposals were made to upgrade the Pacific Highway. Just eight weeks later, two tourist buses collided on the Pacific Highway near Kempsey, NSW, not far from the site of the Grafton crash, killing 35 people.
BUS CRASH;950722;SUN HERALD;NEWS; PIC ANTON
FXJ133243
BUS CRASH;950722;SUN HERALD;NEWS; PIC ANTON
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