Rural regional roads – improving the system
In rural Victoria the casualty crash rate is over twice that of metropolitan Melbourne (VicRoads Road Crash Information System (RCIS) 2014). While many factors contribute to these crashes, vehicle speed dominates.
Victoria’s traditional approach to treating high speed rural roads has been to invest in infrastructure treatments such as safety barriers, delineation and shoulder sealing, where worthwhile, and to leave the default 100 km/h speed limit. This approach has proven very successful for high volume roads where the investment can be justified because a reduction in speed limit would be socially undesirable with the significant impact on mobility. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for low volume roads with high crash rates. The cost of treating these roads with expensive infrastructure treatments is difficult to justify.
VicRoads Eastern Region identified 11 sections of low volume roads with higher than average crash rates. In these sections in a five year period there were 56 fatal and serious injury crashes (2008-2012). The major crash type was single vehicle run-off-road and motorcyclists were the most involved (80%). Inappropriate speeds and speeding were identified as major contributing factors in the majority of these crashes.
In 2012 VicRoads reduced the speed limit from the default 100 km/h to 80 km/h in these sections (covering 225 kilometres of arterial road network). This was to be complemented by delineation, strategic enforcement, advertising and behavioural change initiatives.
This paper details the process involved in identifying the sites, developing the treatments, gaining public acceptance for the speed limit changes, the proposed strategic enforcement, behavioural change initiatives and the early results of the project.
The project, which included some minor infrastructure improvements, was funded by the TAC under the Safer Roads Infrastructure Program with an estimated Benefit Cost Ratio of 17.4.