Councils consider testing new rule

A new road rule is closer to being a reality after several councils revealed they were open to trialling a 70km/h speed limit on all unsealed roads across the Ballarat region.

It comes after Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing Doug Fryer said slashing the speed limit from 100km/h would help prevent serious crashes.

Every year seven people were killed and 300 were injured on unsealed country roads in Victoria, Assistant Commissioner Fryer said.

In response, Police Minister Lisa Neville told reporters the state government was considering the proposal.

"We'll be looking at doing a bit of a trial around that to see if it makes a difference," she said. 

"This is not Melburnians dying on country roads, this is country people on country roads and we want them to come to the solutions with us."

Pyrenees, Hepburn and Moorabool shire councils all said on Wednesday they would be open to trialling the new 70km/h rule if provided with more evidence. 

Hepburn mayor Sebastian Klein, whose council takes in the Central Highlands, said any change would need to balance efficiency with safety.

“We’d be willing to entertain the idea … but there’s few unsealed roads where conditions permit you to drive at 100km/h,” he said.

However, motorists pushing 100km/h on unsealed roads is what drew police to the issue, according to Assistant Commissioner Fryer. 

Senior officers have repeatedly said speed limits set a maximum speed, not a recommended speed

“For me, I don’t travel anywhere close to (100km/h) on an unsealed road,” Assistant Commissioner Fryer said.

“I was out on one a couple of days ago and for me, it was about 65-70km/h absolute maximum.”

Pyrenees Shire Council chief executive Jim Nolan said: "Council would be open to considering  the issue, but would want to see the research and evidence before making any decision”.

Moorabool mayor David Edwards said he would be open to anything that improves safety.

“Initially I thought, here we go again, the reality is I don’t have the evidence and I don’t know what they’re making a decision on, but provided it’s evidence-based, then why wouldn’t you support it?”

A survey of more than 350 residents by The Courier found 40 per cent of respondents supported cutting the speed limit, while 60 per cent were opposed to the idea.