Minister backs barriers

Joel Peterson | Bendigo Weekly | 25-Jan-2018

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Country Victoria continues to be over-represented in the road toll. Photo: Andrew Perryman.
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WORKS to install safety barriers along the Calder Freeway will be a common sight over coming months as the Victorian government aims to reduce the leading cause of road trauma.

Data released on Tuesday shows that crashes where a vehicle runs off the road remain the biggest cause of road trauma on Victorian country roads.

As the Ravenswood Interchange works progress, work is also being done on a large stretch of the Calder to install flexible road barriers to reduce the incidence of run-off-road crashes.

State road minister Luke Donellan visited the Ravenswood site this week to release the figures and highlight the government’s investment in regional roads.

A total of 155 people died on country roads last year, up from 150 in 2016.

Of those 155, 71 were caused by a car running off the road on both straight and curved sections of road.

Six people died on roads within the City of Greater Bendigo in 2017.

The overall road toll was down from 290 to 257 in 2017, despite the increase in deaths on regional roads.

Of the 13 people to have lost their lives on Victorian roads this year, 10 were travelling on country roads.

Mr Donnellan said one in five people seriously injured are on high-speed regional roads.

It comes a week after the closing of public submissions to a parliamentary enquiry into the role of VicRoads in maintaining country roads.

The scope of the inquiry includes whether to break VicRoads up into separate bodies to maintain country and metropolitan roads.

Among a package of works being rolled out by the state government are the safety barrier works along the Calder, which are expected to continue through March.

The barriers have been raised as safety concerns by motorcyclists and those needing access to the centre of the road, such as firefighters.

But the government says the flexible crash barriers, similar to that being installed on the Calder, have been proven to reduce run-off-road and head-on crashes by as much as 85 per cent.

Mr Donnellan said country road users should not be over-represented in the road toll to the degree they are.

“Drivers on country roads are four times more likely to be killed on our roads than drivers in the city,” he said.

“It’s simply unacceptable – that’s why we’re investing more than $1 billion to make our country roads safer.”

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