New data has revealed the number of crashes on the New England Highway in the last five years.
In the five years from 2018 to 2022 there have been 35 fatal accidents on the inland route from Newcastle up to Queensland.
One of the deadliest crashes along the stretch of road was in 2018 when two cars crashed in a head-on collision south of Muswellbrook, killing both drivers and critically injuring a passenger.
Locally, crashes on the New England Highway account for seven out of Tamworth's 24 road fatalities in the last five years.
Three of the seven fatal crashes occurred near Bendemeer, the most recent of which claimed the life of a 17-year-old girl after her car left the road and hit a tree.
Closer to town, an elderly woman died in a tragic single-vehicle car accident on the New England Highway near Nemingha in 2022 after crashing into a tree.
Failing grade on safety
A separate set of data from the NRMA recently revealed that across nearly 3000 kilometres of New England roads, more than 60 per cent have been given a one or two star rating.
The roads are rated on quality and condition on a scale from one to five stars.
The section of the New England Highway north of Bendemeer is one of many stretches of the highway to receive a one-star rating.
Between 2018 and 2022, there have been more than 750 crashes on the 600 kilometre stretch of highway, according to the data from Transport for NSW.
The LGA with the highest number of crashes on the New England Highway was Tamworth, with 157 collisions. Maitland recorded 153 crashes and Singleton had 138.
The small nine-kilometre stretch where the highway terminates into Maitland Road racked up 57 crashes.
However, the LGA with the highest number of fatal accidents on the New England Highway was Singleton, with eight over the five-year period.
The most prevalent type of accident in each of the 10 LGAs was a collision where an injury has occurred, both serious and minor.
The data also includes fender-benders where no injury occurred, but does not include the bumps and prangs where emergency services or traffic controllers were not called.
Time for a new New England Highway?
Safety improvements to the New England Highway were promised in 2019 with a $140 funding announcement from federal member Barnaby Joyce.
Two of the major projects the funding immediately went towards were the Scone and Tenterfield bypasses, the former of which was completed in May 2022.
Calls have gone out for a similar bypass to decrease traffic and improve safety around Tamworth but the state's transport authority says such a plan won't be viable for many years.
Federal funding also contributed to a major safety upgrade for one of Tamworth's main entry points along the highway, Goonoo Goonoo Road.
But the project isn't expected to finish until 2027.
Member for New England Barnaby Joyce told the Leader earlier this week he'd like to see more road funding pulled out from metro areas into the inland regions.
"As they [the federal government] build tunnel, after tunnel, after tunnel for billions of dollars in Sydney, there are areas here where we want bad corners of the New England Highway straightened out," he said.
"We want roads widened with a better surface, and better approaches to bridges."