Mornington Peninsula Shire’s two-year trial of 80 kilometre per hour speed limits on 38 Shire-managed, high risk sealed rural roads has now commenced.
Many of these roads, which until now have been 100km/h and 90km/h, have a significant crash history and high crash risk, including narrow lanes, large trees close to the road, table drains, and poor sightlines.
The trial is only for Shire-managed high risk sealed rural roads and does not affect any Peninsula arterial roads, such as Peninsula Link, Moorooduc Highway, and Westernport Highway.
Our most popular seaside holiday spots also have the state’s highest road toll, with the local mayor pleading for the state government to slash speed limits before summer.
A spike in road fatalities at the Mornington Peninsula Shire soared from two deaths in 2018 to 14.
Council figures also indicate there have been about 100 serious injuries from road accidents over the same period.
Mornington Peninsula mayor David Gill said he feared the death toll would grow as holidaymakers and day-trippers flock to the area’s beaches and wineries over the summer.
The installation of new speed signs, including electronic message boards notifying drivers of the change, is now operating across the 38 roads.
Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor Councillor Sam Hearn said, “this trial is a great step towards making our roads safer, especially as we tragically are Victoria’s worst municipality for road trauma so far in 2019. This trial is timely as we head into our busy summer period”.
“Over the past five years, there have been 165 casualty crashes on our local rural sealed roads.
“This year alone, we have had 14 deaths and over 100 serious injuries – seven of these deaths were on these high risk sealed rural roads. This is in comparison to last year where there were two deaths. Any death is far too many”.
VICROADS may be a major barrier to Mornington Peninsula Shire Council’s calls to trial 80kph speed limits on roads throughout the peninsula.
The roads authority says it prefers to tackle speed issues on a case-by-case basis.
VicRoads last week said it “regularly explores safety upgrades, including speed limit changes, in consultation with the community and our road safety partners including Victoria Police and the TAC”.
“Speed limits on all Victorian roads are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but we always welcome feedback from the community on how we can continue to make our roads safer,” a VicRoads spokesperson told The News.
Cr Gill wants 80kph speed limits on of the peninsula’s narrow and unmade roads.
VicRoads said: “When considering a speed limit change, a range of factors, such as pedestrian and vehicle numbers, the design and type of road, local environment and crash history are taken into account.
“Unsealed roads are mostly the responsibility of local councils.”
Although not all signs have yet been changed, VicRoads says speed limits have been reduced from 70kph to 60kph in Watt Road, Mornington; 100 to 80 in Bruce Road, Mt Martha; 70 to 60 in South Beach Road, Somers; and 90 to 80 in Davies Road, Bittern.
“We are also intending to implement a new speed limit on Jetty Road [Rosebud], reducing it from 100kph to 80kph,” the VicRoads spokesperson stated
Meanwhile, the new mayor Cr Sam Hearn wants residents and ratepayers to “help shape council’s road safety strategy [to] set the vision, targets, and strategy of our journey as a towards zero municipality”.
“We want to hear from our community to find out their thoughts, expectations, and needs on how we can create a safer road system and network through safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds, safer people and bike safety,” he said.
“Sadly, it’s been a tragic year on Mornington Peninsula roads. This year, we have had 14 deaths [when] last year there were two.
“Any death is far too many. We need to work together to minimise road trauma.”
In recent history, there has been a high instance of single-vehicle crashes on Peninsula roads. By traveling 10km/h slower, you reduce your risk of being seriously injured or killed in a crash by 20 and 30% respectively.
“To obtain a similar outcome by improving road infrastructure through widening roads and installing safety barriers would require the removal of thousands of trees – devastating the natural environment where these roads are situated,” concluded Mayor Hearn.
While speed is not always the cause of a crash, the speed of a vehicle at impact will always determine how severely people are hurt as a result.
Shire-managed roads on the Peninsula are typically in very good condition, however, even with perfect roads, drivers will make mistakes.
Research shows that reducing the speed limit will reduce the frequency and severity of crashes and ultimately contribute to saving lives.
The impact on travel times is minimal.
The longest stretch of road in the proposed trial is Browns Road (12km), where the new speed limit of 80km/h adds less than a minute to a journey (according to field tests).
The majority of the roads under the proposed trial are less than a quarter of the length of Browns Road, therefore the impact on travel times along these roads will be insignificant.
Roads part of the Safer Speeds Trial Click here
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