OUR ROAD OF HOR­ROR

Au­thor­i­ties baf­fled as Gee­long’s dead­li­est stretch claims sixth life this year

Geelong Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - TA­MARA Mc­DON­ALD and OLIVIA SHY­ING

MORE than half of Gee­long’s road fa­tal­i­ties this year have oc­curred on a sin­gle stretch, with an­other life claimed yes­ter­day when a pedes­trian was struck on Thomp­son Rd.

The death of the 36-year-old Nor­lane man is the sixth on the stretch in the city’s north this year — five on Thomp­son Rd and one on its ex­ten­sion to the south, Shan­non Ave.

Au­thor­i­ties are baf­fled as to why Thomp­son Rd has sud­denly be­come a death trap af­ter five fatal­ity-free years.

MORE than half of Greater Gee­long’s road fa­tal­i­ties this year have oc­curred on a sin­gle stretch, with an­other life claimed yes­ter­day when a pedes­trian was struck on Thomp­son Rd.

A 36-year-old Nor­lane man died yes­ter­day af­ter he was struck by a car about 5.45am near the in­ter­sec­tion of El­more St in Nor­lane.

His death is the sixth on the stretch — five on Thomp­son Rd and one on its ex­ten­sion to the south, Shan­non Ave. Ten peo­ple in to­tal have died on Gee­long roads so far this year.

Baf­fled au­thor­i­ties are work­ing to iden­tify why the stretch has sud­denly be­come a death trap af­ter five fatal­ity-free years.

Be­fore this year, the last Thomp­son Rd fatal­ity oc­curred in 2013 when an 83year-old male driver died, Trans­port Ac­ci­dent Com­mis­sion fig­ures show.

Gee­long High­way Pa­trol Lead­ing Se­nior Con­sta­ble Shane Dig­nan said yes­ter­day’s vic­tim was cross­ing the road in dark clothes with a bike and a trailer in a poorly lit area.

The driver as­sisted of­fi­cers with their in­quiries and is not ex­pected to be charged.

The crashes on Thomp­son Rd this year have killed two pedes­tri­ans, two driv­ers and a pas­sen­ger. The Shan­non Ave fatal­ity oc­curred when a man died af­ter try­ing to cross the road at the in­ter­sec­tion of Las­celles Ave in May.

Au­thor­i­ties have been un­able to pin­point the cause of the sud­den surge in deaths on the road that is used by 16,000 ve­hi­cles daily.

In the five years to De­cem­ber last year 71 crashes oc­curred along Thomp­son Rd.

Of those crashes 25 led to mo­torists sus­tain­ing se­ri­ous in­juries, while less se­ri­ous in­juries oc­curred in 46 crashes.

Roads Min­is­ter Jaala Pul­ford said it had been an “un­ac­cept­ably aw­ful” year on Thomp­son Rd.

Re­gional Roads Vic­to­ria was work­ing with Vic­to­ria Po­lice to “bring an­swers” re­gard­ing the stretch of road, she said.

RRV south west­ern di­rec­tor Emma Miller-Olsen said a trial traf­fic lane ar­range­ment was be­ing rolled out next week to im­prove safety along the road.

“We’ll care­fully mon­i­tor the road dur­ing the six­month trial and will eval­u­ate the safety out­comes, while we con­tinue in­ves­ti­gat­ing longert­erm im­prove­ments for the full length of Thomp­son Road,” she said.

Lead­ing Se­nior-Con­sta­ble Dig­nan said the spate of fa­tal­i­ties was very con­cern­ing. “I can’t ex­plain it,” he said. “I can’t re­mem­ber see­ing a length of road that is a 60km/h zone just get­ting so many fa­tal­i­ties.”

He said po­lice fre­quently pa­trolled the road, and a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors had con­trib­uted to this year’s crashes.

TAC lead di­rec­tor of road safety Sa­man­tha Cock­field, said a tragic year had un­folded on Vic­to­rian roads.

“While the sta­tis­tics show high-speed re­gional roads pose the big­gest con­cern, there are lower-speed roads closer to Vic­to­ria’s re­gional cen­tres that have seen dis­pro­por­tion­ate rates of trauma,” she said.

Con­cerned traders along the strip have told the Gee­long Ad­ver­tiser of inat­ten­tive and speed­ing driv­ers cre­at­ing a dan­ger­ous en­vi­ron­ment along Thomp­son Rd.

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