Call for 140kph limit is dan­ger­ous

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY LEAH AN­DER­SON-BYRNE LAn­der­son­Byrne@ne­me­

A CALL for the Hume Free­way’s speed limit to be in­creased from its cur­rent 110kph max­i­mum to that of 140kph is gain­ing lit­tle trac­tion.

Wodonga City coun­cil­lor and Lib­eral Democrats party mem­ber Tim Quilty last week called for a 140kph speed limit to be ap­plied to the en­tire length of the free­way, ar­gu­ing that safety fea­tures on mod­ern day ve­hi­cles, time saved by trav­ellers, and suc­cess of Euro­pean au­to­bahns show a faster speed to be safe.

But Road­safe North East ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer John Weinert strongly dis­agrees, telling the

Wan­garatta Chronicle on Fri­day that a 140kph speed limit would be dan­ger­ous and in­crease the risk of in­juries and death.

“The Hume Free­way is not de­signed the same as the Euro­pean roads which are specif­i­cally de­signed for high speeds,” he said.

“Euro­pean driv­ers are also well ed­u­cated to drive on those roads at those speeds, un­like in Aus­tralia.

“Mod­ern day ve­hi­cles from the last few years do have the safety fea­tures to drive at that speed but in re­al­ity most pub­lic travelling ve­hi­cles aren’t new cars... they can be up to 10 years old or more.

“If we all drove those cars, sure it would be fine, but we don’t.”

Ru­ral City of Wan­garatta mayor Ken Clarke also dis­agrees with the call for a speed limit change.

“I don’t be­lieve we are ready for a 140kph speed along the Hume Free­way,” he told the Chronicle.

“I travel a lot with the ru­ral city’s CEO Bren­dan McGrath and I’m not al­ways driv­ing but I feel some driv­ers are ap­palling and the faster speed would in­crease road deaths.”

Trans­port Ac­ci­dent Com­mis­sion’s (TAC) di­rec­tor of road safety pro­grams and pol­icy, Michael Nieuwes­t­eeg, agrees.

“The re­search tells us that rais­ing the speed limit to such high lev­els (140kph) on the Hume Free­way will re­sult in more peo­ple dy­ing and be­ing se­ri­ously in­jured,” he told the Chronicle.

Mr Nieuwes­t­eeg said the num­ber of peo­ple killed on ru­ral roads in­creased by five in 2017, from 150 to 155, de­spite Vic­to­ria’s over­all lives lost fig­ure de­creas­ing from 290 to 257 over the same pe­riod.

The ma­jor­ity of the 155 deaths on re­gional roads last year oc­curred in high speed (100kph or more) zones and while speed is not al­ways the cause of a crash, the speed of a ve­hi­cle at im­pact will al­ways de­ter­mine the ex­tent of the in­juries that re­sult.

“It’s no co­in­ci­dence the ma­jor­ity of road deaths and se­ri­ous in­juries in Vic­to­ria hap­pen on high-speed re­gional roads,” he said.

“The link be­tween higher speeds and more deaths couldn’t be clearer - we should never value re­duced travel time ahead of lives.”

Wodonga Coun­cil­lor Tim Quilty be­lieves a speed limit of 140km/h should ap­ply to the Hume Free­way. Do you agree? Want to have your say on top­i­cal is­sues? Visit our Face­book page to vote in our weekly poll.

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