Highway danger outcry
Former TAC manager leads chorus of protest to minister
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.
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.