Country roads need more funding in name of safety
A JOINT crash risk assessment study of country highways within the national land transport network by RACV has found that sections of the Goulburn Valley Highway has crash problems and need funding for safety upgrades.
The study also found that the recently upgraded Nagambie Bypass on the Goulburn Valley Highway is the safest section of the national network in Australia.
RACV manager roads and traffic, Dave Jones said while it was a pleasing to see the Nagambie Bypass rated well, many of Victoria’s rural roads have poor crash histories resulting in serious injuries or death.
“Before the Nagambie Bypass was built this was a notorious stretch of road. This 17 km freeway bypass has taken truck and through- traffic off Nagambie’s main road. The risk assessment result for the Nagambie Bypass tells us those road improvements like bypasses dramatically increase safety.
But Mr Jones said while Victoria has invested in safer roads, many rural Victorian roads needed urgent attention.
“Road safety on our country highways is a major issue with 55 per cent of all fatalities occurring on rural roads, despite only 25 percent of the Victorian population residing in these areas.
“It is telling that our report identified the five worst sections of highway in Victoria, which accounted for less than nine per cent of the kilometres reviewed, but recorded nearly 25 per cent of the crashes and 15 per cent of deaths,” he said.
Each highway section was assigned a risk rating from low to high. The riskiest five sections of country highway are found on the Princes Freeway, Goulburn Valley Highway, Western Freeway and the Western Highway.
As well as the Nagambie Bypass improvement, Mr Jones said substantial upgrades to the road network were completed since the rating period of 2010-2014 and the benefits of these investments would show in future assessments.
“A $1 billion, ten year program to improve the safety of Victoria’s roads is under way, including crash barriers and other low-cost road improvements and some of this program has since been spent on roads assessed as part of this RACV/ AAA study. A separate study into more recent safety improvements along Princes Highway East has shown the significant economic benefits of investing in road safety to reduce injuries.”
With 2016 being a bad year on our roads, RACV expects a stronger commitment in the 2017 state and federal budgets towards making Victoria’s country highways substantially safer. RACV will shortly commence reassessing the star ratings of Victoria’s country highway network.