SPEED limits could be cut to 50km/h at intersections and sensors installed on country roads to warn drivers of oncoming traffic as part of sweeping changes suggested in a new road safety report.
And while Campaspe Shire Council is open to implementing the study’s suggested upgrades (should the proposals make it to the Austroads Design Guidelines), they admit it could cost ratepayers.
But save lives.
Released in early December, the Austroads report found 30 per cent of crashes causing serious injury and death on Australian roads occurred at intersections.
And yet, little had been done to improve intersection design.
“Through this report, we’re really encouraging engineers to give the consequences of crashes more consideration,” co-author of the report, Adelaide University road safety expert Jeremy Woolley, said.
“It’s not enough to just put up a stop sign and tell the driver to do the right thing. It’s crucial we design intersections to lower crash severity.”
The report suggested country car speeds should be cut to 50km/h for side-impact intersections and 70-80km/h where head-on crashes could occur.
It also proposed the placement of lit speed signs 150m from major country road intersections, alerting drivers to lower their speeds to 60km/h or 70km/h when an approaching car on the side road triggered sensors.
The report has also recommended nine intersection designs to road engineers which include safe roundabouts, raised intersections, reduced speed limits and changing the approach angle of intersections.
“The issue with current vehicle design is we’re well-protected from head-on collisions – we have the bonnet and the boot to absorb a lot of the impact,” Mr Woolley said.
“But we haven’t made great progress with car design for side impact. There’s only the protection of the width of the car door.
“So in addition to lowering speeds, we need to lower the angle of intersections from 90 degrees to reduce the risk of dangerous side-on collisions.
“A roundabout is the best design as angles are seriously reduced so there’s less risk of property damage and serious injuries.”
While Campaspe Shire Council could eventually implement the designs if they are incorporated into national road design guidelines, Infrastructure Services general manager Emma Dalton admitted these changes would come with their fair share of challenges.
“(These) range from the acquisition of land to improve the alignment of intersections, impacts to existing infrastructure such as drainage, gas, water, power and telecommunications, impacts to the amount of existing parking and the potential for traffic congestion due to the reduced speeds around intersections,” she said.
“These challenges may result in a higher cost to the community to deliver the proposed safety upgrades.”