Casualties plummet on upgraded Princes Highway

The NRMA's latest review of the Princes Highway, covering almost 430 kilometres from Dapto to the Victorian border, tells "a tale of two roads".

The NRMA’s latest review of the Princes Highway, covering almost 430 kilometres from Dapto to the Victorian border, tells “a tale of two roads”.

Injury crashes have plummeted by as much as 90 per cent as a result of upgrades to the Princes Highway to the north of Jervis Bay, according to the National Roads & Motorists’ Association’s latest review of the Princes Highway.

The NRMA review compared the most recent five year data provided by the NSW Centre for Road Safety with the previous five years data. It assessed 428 km of the Highway from Dapto to the NSW/Victorian border. It tells a tale of two roads, with almost 300 km of the Highway south of Jervis Bay Road classed as high risk, compared with just over 30 km in the northern section.

It also reveals the huge benefits from investing in safer roads, with injury crashes plummeting by as much as 90 per cent as a result of recent Highway upgrades.

The review found that re-routing and upgrading the Highway to a dual lane divided carriageway between Oak Flats and Kiama slashed injury crashes by 48 over the five year period to 2012.

In contrast, there are 16 sections of the Highway to the south of Jervis Bay Road that continue to be rated a high risk for motorists. Together these 16 sections resulted in 523 injury crashes and 22 fatal crashes in the same period.

Key findings of the audit include:

  • From 2008-2012 there were 1,014 casualty crashes resulting in 45 deaths and 1,401 injuries (2003-2007 there were 1,015 casualty crashes, 64 deaths; 1,441 injuries);
  • Three-quarters (75%) of all injury crashes occurred on undivided sections of the Highway, rising to almost 90 per cent (89%) in rural sections
  • Upgrades to the Highway mean that nearly one-fifth (18%) of the Highway is now rated by the Australian Roads Assessment Program (AusRAP) as low or medium-low risk, almost double the amount from the previous five years (9%)
  • The proportion of the Highway that is now classed as high risk has increased to 77% (64% 2003-2007) reflecting an increase in traffic and risk on those sections that have still not been upgraded
  • The cost of injury crashes on the Princes Highway through lost productivity and the provision of emergency, health and welfare services has fallen to $483 million (2003-07: $610 million).

NRMA local Director Alan Evans said the Princes Highway Audit painted a clear contrast of the broad benefits achieved when Government invested in the road network.

“Sections of the Princes Highway that have been upgraded have seen a dramatic fall in fatalities and injuries and reduced congestion – as well as delivering economic benefits to local businesses,” Mr Evans said.

“The fact that injury crashes fell by almost 90 per cent along certain upgraded sections highlights the enormous benefits that can be achieved when we invest in fixing dangerous roads.

“By contrast, sections of the Highway – particularly south of Jervis Bay – that haven’t been upgraded continue to claim innocent lives at an alarming rate.”

The NRMA review identifies a possible staged approach to the Albion Park Bypass that would help to keep people moving in the short term before the full bypass is constructed.

It also suggests ways to improve the approach to the North Kiama exit ramp, which would reduce confusion for motorists and reduce the risk of rear-end collisions and traffic congestion.

The audit also revealed that while traffic volumes south of Jervis Bay may not justify the complete upgrade to dual lane divided carriageway, two-by-one lane upgrades divided by crash barriers and greater use of wire rope crash barriers would considerably reduce crash rates and save lives.

“This report provides the Government with clear measures to build on the good work undertaken in recent years to make the Princes Highway safer, less congested and a better asset for local communities and businesses along the South Coast,” Mr Evans said.

“The Pacific Highway has taken too long to upgrade and as a result too many lives have been lost – we don’t want to repeat these mistakes with the Princes Highway.”

Do you agree that the upgraded sections of the Princes Highway are safer to drive on?

New changes to road rules

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Emergency and incident response vehicles are now allowed to travel in breakdown lanes, in one of two major road rule changes in recent months.

Motorists will see NRMA roadside patrols, police, fire, rescue, ambulance vehicles, and tow trucks using the breakdown lane or road shoulders on fast moving roads to access breakdowns under the recent Road Rule Amendment 307-2.

In the second road rule change which was brought in recently, drivers no longer need to report a minor collision to police, even for insurance purposes.

If a vehicle needs to be towed and no one is injured, drivers can now simply exchange details, organise their own tow and leave the area. You should only call the police if another driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or if they fail to stop and exchange details.

If an injury develops after the fact, a collision can be reported at a later time to the Police Assistance Line on 131 444.

NRMA local Director Michael Tynan says an informed motoring public is a safer motoring public.

“Being aware of changing rules and road use can alleviate confusion if motorists find themselves in breakdown or minor collision situations,” Mr Tynan says.

“NRMA roadside patrols, incident responders and tow trucks can now use breakdown lanes to reduce response time to stranded motorists.”

ISOFIX child car seats now for sale in Australia

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Child safety seats designed to the international ISOFIX standard can now legally be sold in Australia, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has confirmed this week.

The first one that meets child restraint Australian ISOFIX Standard, the Maxi-Cosi from Dorel, is already on the market. No doubt, other manufacturers are not far behind.

The ISOFIX system uses two metal clips in the base of the seat (or on flexible connectors on the base) that clip into metal loops in the joint between the back and base of the rear seat. It is claimed to reduce the incidence of incorrect installation of restraints. Parents and carers have to listen for the “click”, and tug the restraint after installation, to ensure the clips are properly engaged.

Britax17The Australian Standard includes the requirement for a top tether strap, which improves the restraint performance. This is not required in other countries, so it is illegal to use an imported restraint which does not comply with the Standard.

Experience overseas is that ISOFIX restraints are heavier, due to the metal frame incorporating the clips, and often more expensive than conventional restraints. Therefore, consumers should check these points before committing to a purchase.

Have you  heard of ISOFIX?  Are you interested in purchasing an ISOFIX restraint?

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Sydney CBD speed limit to be reduced to 40km/h soon

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Over the next fortnight there will be VMS road signs for motorists and a widespread advertising campaign including newspaper and radio ads to make sure anyone who missed the announcement in May is ready for the change.

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Over the next fortnight there will be VMS road signs for motorists and a widespread advertising campaign including newspaper and radio ads to make sure anyone who missed the announcement in May is ready for the change.

Last week, NSW Minister for Roads and Freight Duncan Gay announced that a 40km/h speed limit will be introduced in a large part of the Sydney CBD  at the end of September.

“The CBD’s 40km/h speed limit zone will be rolled out from Saturday 27 September as we work to further improve pedestrian safety,” Minister Gay said.

“Considering a vehicle that hits a pedestrian at 50km/h is twice as likely to cause a fatality as the same vehicle travelling at 40km/h, this speed limit change will deliver significant safety benefits.

“The new 40km/h limit zone will operate in the area bound by Castlereagh Street to the east, Kent Street to the west and Hay Street to the south. It will also link in with the current 40km/h speed limit in The Rocks to the north of the CBD. The area will include a 40km/h speed limit on and adjacent to George Street.

“It’s not only motorist behaviour that needs to change – if you’re walking around, cross at the lights, obey traffic signals, look both ways before stepping onto the road and don’t get distracted by your phone,” Minister Gay said.

NRMA broadly supports the 40km/h speed limit. The average traffic speed in the CBD is around 20-30km/h so it won’t have any noticeable impact on traffic flow. We would urge people to be aware of the speed limit particularly where they might have come off the Harbour Bridge or Anzac Bridge at 70 or 60km/h and suddenly enter the CBD. Its important to know that the limit will be 40km/h, not 50km/h.

What do you think of this news?

40kmh-in-CBD-to-improve-pedestrian-safety.pdf

Directing our traffic lights

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Traffic lights, they’re the gatekeepers of our roads – but can they be improved?


Traffic lights, they’re the gatekeepers of our roads. They’re like a central nervous system for the vast interconnecting network of our streets, safely guiding us from point A to point B. They constantly send messages to drivers and pedestrians, telling us when to stop and when it’s safe to go.

Clearly serving a huge purpose, they keep us safe and help to keep us on our way in as efficient a manner as possible, so why do we get so frustrated with them? Everyone has experienced the lip-bitingly infuriating problem of hitting consecutive red lights. We’ve even seen traffic lights stop the flow of traffic for ‘invisible’ pedestrians, nowhere to be seen but still managing to hold you up just that little bit longer whilst a green man facilitates their safe passage.

There is, however, no denying that traffic lights are necessary to prevent all kinds of pandemonium from being unleashed on our roads. The question is, is there anything that can be done to improve these bastions of our roads? One suggestion that has been made to us, via our SpeakOut suggestion platform, is the removal of red arrows.

According to the RMS, a red arrow indicates ‘You must not turn right but you can go straight ahead or turn left if the way is clear’. This, however, is not a practice which is employed in countries such as the US or the UK, so do why do we need it in Australia? In short, it is due to safety as well as it being a practice which has always been in place.

In the past we have called for improvements to traffic lights. One of our suggestions in NRMA’s 2011 Decongestion Strategy was to improve traffic sensors and signal phasing so that traffic lights can detect the length of queues. This would help prioritise traffic signals and get cars through as efficiently as possible. Our system has been in place for so long that it may be impractical to take away red arrows, but we can make the system we have more intuitive and efficient.

Should our current practices be amended to fall in line with other nations? Is there anything else other countries do that we can adopt?

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RMS road rules on traffic lights