Death trap or life saver

A PROPOSAL to improve safety on the South Gippsland Highway between Leongatha and Meeniyan has been met with mixed reaction from motorists.

VicRoads will install flexible safety barriers down the centre of the South Gippsland Highway between the towns, from next month, in a bid to prevent head-on crashes.

The barriers will be part of $12.8 million worth of works VicRoads believed would reduce the risk of crashes on the highway between Leongatha and Meeniyan – one of Victoria’s top 20 highest risk rural road segments.

Twenty serious crashes occurred there, with one fatality and 19 people injured (six seriously), in the five year period to 2015.

A new overtaking lane is also proposed for this section of highway.

Some drivers fear the barriers will increase the likelihood – and severity – of crashes, while others say the barriers will make the highway safer.

“If drivers get distracted and drift slightly to their right, they’ll hit the barrier,” said a Meeniyan resident who wished to remain anonymous.

“It’s also going to make it difficult for emergency services to pass other road users. The works are going to be disruptive to say the least.”

Meeniyan resident Gemma Martin did not believe the cable barrier – to be the same as that dividing the highway at Kooweerup – was unnecessary.

“The statistics of crashes along this road I am unsure of, but from my observations, it is not an exceptionally busy road like the Monash Freeway which is the only other road I regularly travel on with centre of road cable barriers,” she said.

“Being unable to overtake a tractor or slow driver would be highly frustrating.”

A VicRoads spokesperson said the barriers had proven to prevent vehicles running off the road or crashing head-on into oncoming traffic.

Meeniyan resident Ashlee McDonald welcomed the barriers.

“It will reduce the amount of crashes along that road, even though there aren’t many as it is. The bends are a hazard and adding a barrier will reduce that hazard,” she said.

Meeniyan resident Richard Powell also supported in the installation of the barriers.

“I’ve done research into the barriers and they’re very good. Monash University did a study and there was a 75 percent drop in road deaths and I’m sure there would be a similar drop in injuries,” he said.

“The passing lane will be good because at the moment there’s only one between Meeniyan and Leongatha. If you’re caught behind a slower driver around Black Spur, it can be very tedious.”

The location of the barriers is yet to be determined by VicRoads.

Last year, VicRoads spoke with communities along the highway to understand their thoughts about road safety.

Common suggestions included sealing the highway shoulders, improving maintenance, introducing new overtaking opportunities, improving access to properties and the Victorian Livestock Exchange saleyards at Koonwarra, and realigning the segment of the highway known as Black Spur.

VicRoads also plans to install flexible road safety barriers on the left hand side of the highway at high risk locations to prevent run-off-road crashes, install rumble strips to prevent head-on and run-off-road crashes, and seal the road shoulder to improve access to and from the Koonwarra saleyards.

VicRoads held a community information session in Leongatha yesterday (Monday).

The Safe System Infrastructure Program (SSRIP) is a partnership between VicRoads and the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) to improve country roads.

“Keeping people safe on the roads is our number one priority, and we want to save lives and prevent serious injuries caused by crashes,” SSRIP director Bryan Sherritt.

  • More information can be found at vicroads.vic.gov.au, or by contacting engage.ssrip@roads.vic.gov.au or calling 0401 998 130.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=22055

Posted by on Aug 1 2017. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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