High­way dan­ger out­cry

For­mer TAC man­ager leads cho­rus of protest to min­is­ter

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS -

A FOR­MER se­nior TAC staffer has taken aim at the State Min­is­ter for Roads and Road Safety over the “dis­grace­ful state” of the Hamil­ton High­way, which he de­scribed as an ac­ci­dent wait­ing to hap­pen.

The com­ments came as mo­torists flooded the Gee­long Ad­ver­tiser with com­plaints about the shock­ing state of the high­way near In­ver­leigh, af­ter VicRoads re­duced the speed limit on the stretch to 80km/h rather than fix it.

John Bolitho, a lawyer who worked closely with the State Govern­ment for decades as the TAC’s se­nior man­ager for le­gal pol­icy, said it was lucky the road’s poor sur­face and speed­ing driv­ers hadn’t caused more ma­jor crashes.

“It’s a free-for-all from a speed per­spec­tive; every­body’s driv­ing at very high speeds, a lot of peo­ple ig­nore the 80km/h limit that VicRoads have put in there as some kind of re­sponse to the con­di­tion of the road,” Mr Bolitho said.

“Gen­er­ally speak­ing the de­fault’s about 120km/h be­tween Deri­nal­lum and Fyans­ford — and in the dark it’s even worse.

“I just think, given the amount of traf­fic there is, the mix­ture be­tween heavy trucks and cars, whilst the Mid­land High­way is ap­par­ently the most dan­ger­ous in the state, I think it’s just been good luck the Hamil­ton High­way hasn’t also had some re­ally bad crashes in­volv­ing big trucks and cars.

“If the Govern­ment’s se­ri­ous about Vi­sion Zero, you can’t have roads like that, be­cause some­one’s go­ing to get re­ally badly hurt.

“The Min­is­ter should hang his head in em­bar­rass­ment.”

Mr Bolitho sin­gled out La­bor’s Min­is­ter for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Don­nel­lan, who in 2015 launched To­wards Zero, the state’s vi­sion for a fu- ture free of deaths and se­ri­ous in­juries on Vic­to­rian roads.

The vi­sion was backed by a road safety strat­egy specif­i­cally geared to­wards im­prov­ing safety on coun­try roads, where the TAC said mo­torists were four times more likely to die than in Mel­bourne.

It in­cluded hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in flex­i­ble road­side safety bar­ri­ers, which the Govern­ment said would ad­dress the over-rep­re­sen­ta­tion of re­gional roads in road trauma statis­tics.

How­ever, TAC chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Joe Calafiore last week said mo­torists were now five times more likely to die on coun­try roads, sug­gest­ing the over-rep­re­sen­ta­tion had in­creased de­spite the ex­pen­sive bar­rier works.

Mr Bolitho’s at­tack on the min­is­ter comes af­ter the Gee­long Ad­ver­tiser last month re­vealed Greater Gee­long roads were the state’s dead­li­est, claim­ing 400 lives since 1987 ac­cord­ing to TAC data.

Mr Calafiore last month called on driv­ers to slow down and con­cen­trate to re­duce the risk of tragedies on Gee­long roads.

“The tragic re­al­ity is that Vic­to­ri­ans are five times more likely to die on ru­ral roads than in the city,” Mr Calafiore said.

A quar­ter of the state’s most dan­ger­ous roads — all in the Gee­long re­gion — have claimed eight lives and recorded more than 100 se­ri­ous in­juries be­tween 2013 and 2017.

Pic­ture: DAVID SMITH

FIX IT NOW: In­ver­leigh res­i­dent An­drea Bolton at a sec­tion of the Hamil­ton High­way that is in a ter­ri­ble state, forc­ing the speed limit to be re­duced to 80km/h.

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