THE CONDITION of roads in and around Ballarat is under hot debate, as road authorities look to the success of foreign countries in using new techniques to minimise the severity of crashes.
TAC CEO Joe Calafiore identified safe roads in regional Victoria as a key issue in the TAC’s ambitious aims of reaching a zero road toll and suggested leaders look at ideas like barriers down the middle of roads.
“I’d be arguing, what can we learn from overseas jurisdictions?” he said.
“We have barriers on quite a lot of the side s of our road networks. VicRoads are now trialling a barrier down the middle of the road on the Melba Highway because there’s a particular stretch where people don’t go of the side, but they drift across.
“That’s being used very successfully in overseas jurisdictions.
“Using fatigue as a example, you’re fatigued and make a mistake and drive off the road. If there’s not a safe road environment and there’s not a barrier and you hit a tree instead, you may lose your life.”
VicRoads Regional Director Ewen Nevett said the organisation supported the Towards Zero campaign, with almost $13 million invested into road upgrades in Western Victoria over the coming summer.
Mr Nevett said these included full pavement restorations of Daylesford-Ballarat Road, south of Pootilla, and Ballarat-Maryborough Road in Ascot, with the roads dug up and completely rebuilt.
“Across 17 sites in Ballarat and surrounding districts, $4 million has been contributed as part of the Federal Blackspot Program for measures such as traffic islands, lane widening and roundabouts at dangerous locations,” he said.
The Western Highway, which sees 6500 cars each day west of Ballarat, is currently being upgraded by VicRoads as part of a $662.3 million duplication of the road between Ballarat and Stawell.
In the five years to December 2014, there were 79 crashes on the Western Highway between Ballarat and Stawell, including 11 fatalities and 49 serious injuries.
“Making roads, vehicles and roadsides safer through engineering better infrastructure, and creating a strong safety environment are vital to achieving the zero vision,” Mr Nevett said.
“But everybody needs to commit to making the right choices and doing the right thing to stay safe. It’s the choices that drivers, cyclists and pedestrians make on the roads that will make the difference.”
Former police sergeant Gary Chandler, who attended more than 150 crashes and between 30-40 fatalities in a 36-year career, said pulling out trees on the sides of roads was vital.