Victoria Premier Ted Baillieu
Premier Announces $7.6 Million In Road Safety Upgrades For Princes Highway East
Victor P Taffa
Premier Ted Baillieu today announced a $7.6 Million road safety boost for the Princes Highway East from Stratford to Bairnsdale and from Orbost to Cann River.
Speaking at a business lunch in Bairnsdale, Premier Baillieu said the safety upgrades were part of a wider $36 Million program to reduce the crash rate along the highway from Longwarry through to the New South Wales border.
Today’s announcement includes a $4.3 Million road safety boost for a stretch of Princes Highway East between Stratford and Bairnsdale and $3.32 Million safety upgrade from Orbost to Cann River.
“The stretch of highway between Stratford and Bairnsdale has severe fatigue-related crash trends due to the monotonous nature of the road and distance from metropolitan areas, especially during holiday periods.” Premier Baillieu said.
“For the period between 2005 and the end of 2010 there were 15 reported run-off-road crashes resulting in eight fatalities and 19 people suffering serious injuries.”
“More than three quarters of these crashes involved vehicles leaving the road to the right, with over half then crashing head-on into oncoming cars.”
“The 74 km section of the highway between Orbost and Cann River traverses mountainous terrain and has heavily vegetated roadsides. The crash history shows a strong pattern of vehicles leaving the road on curves.”
“Over the last five years there have been 40 crashes on this particular section of highway, and 35 of these were run-off-road crashes, of which five tragically resulted in fatalities.”
Premier Baillieu said the Coalition Government was committed to improving safety on Victoria’s roads.
Last month Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Peter Ryan launched the three-year Regional Victoria Road Trauma Reduction Strategy with Deputy Commissioner of Victoria Police Kieran Walshe in Warragul.
The strategy seeks to address the over-representation of country Victorians in the annual road toll figures.
“Last year 163 people tragically died in road accidents across regional Victoria, an increase of 13 % on the previous year.” Premier Baillieu said.
Premier Baillieu added that the placement of different types of road surface textures to vary the noise effects and ride along the stretch of road would also be used to help keep drivers alert.
“There will also be measures to create greater awareness of the existing rest areas to encourage fatigued drivers to take a break, and safety barriers will be installed to protect motorists from roadside hazards at high risk locations.” Premier Baillieu said.
Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull, who has advocated strongly for highway improvements in these areas, said all of these road safety treatments would improve driver decision making and assist drivers stay within their lanes.
“The aim of the Princes Highway upgrades is to reduce the high number of head-on and run-off-road type crashes by making the driving task more interactive and engaging and reducing the effects of fatigue from the monotonous driving environment, because we need to put a stop to the carnage on regional and rural roads.”
“The upgrades also aim to assist drivers in preventing crashes if they start to stray off the road or onto the wrong side of the road.” Mr. Bull said.
Works on the Stratford to Bairnsdale section are expected to start in December 2011 and for the Orbost to Cann River section works are planned to commence in mid 2012.
Each section will take approximately 12 months to complete.