Ris­ing ru­ral road toll

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On the out­skirts of met­ro­pol­i­tan Ade­laide, a 15km stretch of Gorge Rd in the Ade­laide Hills was the worst trap for crashes, with a rate of 96 col­li­sions per 10km of driv­ing in 2013-2017, in­clud­ing 14 se­ri­ous and two fa­tal crashes.

Vic­tor Har­bor Rd, from just out­side of the main town­ship to Wil­lunga Hill, ranked sec­ond with 49 crashes per 10km, while Port Wake­field Rd be­tween Two Wells and Port Wake­field had a crash rate of 37, in­clud­ing seven fa­tal­i­ties. Vic­tor Har­bor Coun­cil mayor Gra­ham Philp said it was long, windy stretches and a high pres­ence of wild an­i­mals that made Vic­tor Har­bor Rd so dan­ger­ous.

“We do have is­sues with kan­ga­roos and (other) wild an­i­mals cross­ing the road,” Mr Philp said.

“Also be­cause it’s so wind­ing and hilly there’s quite con­sid­er­able dis­tances where no pass­ing is avail­able.

“We do get a lot of heavy ve­hi­cles us­ing that road slow­ing things down and caus­ing frus­tra­tion, so driv­ers are will­ing to take risks they shouldn’t be tak­ing,” he said.

An­other dan­ger­ous spot is Hor­rocks Hwy north of Ade­laide. There were 87 crashes along the Tar­lee to Stan­ley Flat stretch, in­clud­ing three se­ri­ous in­juries and five fa­tal­i­ties.

RAA road safety se­nior man­ager Charles Moun­tain said the as­so­ci­a­tion had been ad­vo­cat­ing for road up­grades to im­prove the high­way’s poor sur­face and add more over­tak­ing lanes.

“The State Gov­ern­ment re­cently an­nounced $2.5 mil­lion to ad­dress some sec­tions of the high­way, which is a step in the right di­rec­tion,” he said.

“How­ever, fur­ther in­vest­ment will be needed on this cor­ri­dor to bring it to safe and ac­cept­able con­di­tion for the thou­sands of mo­torists who use this road on a daily ba­sis.”

Mr Moun­tain said more needed to be done to im­prove road safety and driver ed­u­ca­tion on SA’s coun­try roads.

“Fac­tors such as fa­tigue are po­ten­tially a greater is­sue be­cause of the greater dis­tances peo­ple tend to drive in the coun­try,” he said.

Mr Moun­tain said safe road con­di­tions, driv­ers, cars and speeds were all vi­tal to re­duce se­ri­ous and fa­tal crashes.

SA Po­lice Traf­fic Sup­port Branch Su­per­in­ten­dent Bob Gray said ve­hi­cle oc­cu­pants not wear­ing a seat­belt had a higher preva­lence in ru­ral fa­tal­i­ties.

“SA Po­lice have run Op­er­a­tion Belt Up as a high-pro­file en­force­ment mes­sage in re­sponse to this,” he said.

“The road toll is not about num­bers – it is about the dev­as­tat­ing im­pact these pre­ventable deaths and se­ri­ous in­juries have in each fam­ily, com­mu­nity and work­place touched by these in­di­vid­u­als.”

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