A RETIRED traffic policeman is calling for the speed limit at an accident hotspot at Korumburra to be reduced to save lives.
Wayne Beale is calling on VicRoads to lower the speed limit on the South Gippsland Highway near Coal Creek Community Park and Museum from 80km/h to 60km/h.
He also wants the limit along the Silkstone straight, on the Leongatha side of the bends, to be 80km/h instead of 100km/h.
The former Bass Coast Highway Patrol officer’s call follows numerous accidents on the bends in the past month.
The safety of the South Gippsland Highway near Coal Creek at Korumburra was again under the spotlight after a Melbourne man was killed there last Tuesday, November 22.
This is the third serious accident on the Coal Creek bends in a month prompting calls for an investigation.
On November 12 a collision between a truck and a car resulted in four people being taken to hospital and on October 31, another four people were treated in hospital after two cars collided.
The notorious bends has seen many collisions over the years and at least one other fatality has been recorded. Miraculously there have not been many deaths from the numerous accidents recorded there.
However, police do not believe road conditions were a factor in the accident.
The most recent accident saw a 2001 Ford utility being driven by a 33 year old Melbourne man travelling towards Korumburra allegedly lose control after negotiating a bend near Coal Creek at around 1.30pm.
The ute was struck at the driver’s side by a 2001 Subaru being driven towards Leongatha by a 43 year old Melbourne man.
The driver of the ute is believed to have died instantly.
The driver of the Subaru was conveyed by road ambulance to Dandenong with non life threatening injuries to his face, chest and back.
“I’m the last person many would have thought to advocate for more restrictive speed limits, however I’ve come to the realisation that I could be driving towards drivers as they lose control,” Mr Beale told The Star.
“A reduction in speed limits is a cheap easy method of maybe preventing someone being killed or injured, and enable the limited road funding pool to be used in actually fixing the road surface.”
Mr Beale suggested a fixed speed camera be installed in the middle of the dip in the Coal Creek bends.
If VicRoads does not agree to a permanent 60km/h limit, Mr Beale raised the prospect of a variable speed limit, with 60km/h to apply during rain.
“Suitably signposted and enforced, that process works very well on the highways of parts of New South Wales, is enforceable, and may just solve the problem,” he said.
“Alternatively, lengthen the 80km/h speed zone east of the area, to enable the mobile speed cameras to be actually sited in an area of high collision and non-compliance with the speed limit, rather than on the numerous ‘unsafe’ bits of straight four lane highway.
“This will at least ensure offenders will receive a fine in the mail weeks after they have put everyone’s life at risk and may slow them down next time they visit the area.”
Mr Beale said the same ideas could be applied to another accident hotspot on the Black Spur bends on the South Gippsland Highway between Koonwarra and Meeniyan.
“Reduced enforceable speed zones, rather than those stupid ‘Slow down, too fast’ flashing signs, combined with actual enforcement after a period of education, could work, again with fixed or mobile speed cameras depending on the suitability,” he said.
Sergeant Jason Hullick from Bass Coast Highway Patrol said the road was wet at the time of the accident.
“We are still investigating the cause of the incident, however one of the things we are looking at is speed. We will be preparing an inquest for the coroner,” he said.
Sgt Hullick said the police do not believe the condition of the road played a role in the collision.
“There are some witnesses giving varying accounts of the incident, who will provide statements,” he said.
“The road condition has been assessed as above average, the camber is right. It is a bend in the road, but people need to drive to the conditions and slow down.
“If there is an advisory sign, follow it.”
Sgt Hullick said speed limit has been temporarily reduced to 40 kilometres per hour due to vehicle fluids on the road following the collision.
“We made efforts to wash the road and spread sand and sawdust, but with the weather conditions we have lowered the speed in the interim, until we can make sure the road is all clear,” he said.
VicRoads Eastern Region regional director Scott Lawrence said all speed limits were reviewed on “a case by case basis”.
“When considering a speed limit change, VicRoads looks at a range of factors such as pedestrian and vehicle numbers, the design and type of road, local environment and crash history,” he said.
“VicRoads receives many requests each year to alter speeds limits on arterial roads and these are considered on a case by case basis.
“For requests on VicRoads managed roads, VicRoads consults with Victoria Police, council and the local community.
“We encourage community members wanting a change to call 13 11 70 and we can help them through the process.”
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