Coun­try roads need more fund­ing in name of safety

Euroa Gazette - - NEWS -

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.

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