The tragic event on the Black Spur on Friday 9 August is a timely reminder of the urgent need to improve the management of safety risks on our roads.
There are a hundred ways the safety of drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians can be affected – from driver distraction, fatigue, speed and impairment (drugs and/or alcohol) to weather conditions and road hazards. Sometimes all it takes is a second, sometimes – like we witnessed last week – it’s a truly terrible case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Murrindindi Shire Council Mayor, Sandice McAulay said Transport Accident Commission (TAC) statistics show that while only 24 percent of the Victorian population lives outside metropolitan areas, half of all the lives lost in 2018 on Victorian roads happened in regional Victoria.
“This stark reality is never far from our minds. And Council has, for some time now, been advocating to the state and federal governments for more attention to and investment in road safety in our region,” Cr McAulay said.
“That’s why we have been so active in advocating on these issues. Recently, Murrindindi Shire Council representatives participated in the state-wide Towards Zero Summit, held in Melbourne. This Summit saw road safety experts, senior emergency services representatives, government and opposition ministers and members, and a small number of councils come together to provide input into the development of the State Government’s ‘Towards Zero’ Road Safety Strategy.
“We were also successful in attracting one of eight ‘Regional Road Safety Forums’ to run in our Shire. This ran in Marysville last month, with a great turnout from stakeholders and the community. If you couldn’t attend this Forum and would like to have your say on what needs to happen to improve road safety in regional Victoria, I really encourage you to take a moment to fill in the ‘Towards Zero’ Road Safety Survey, which is open until 13 September. You can find a link to the survey in the ‘news’ section of Council’s website,” Cr McAulay said.
“Our CEO, Craig Lloyd also chaired a private meeting between the Victorian Minister for Roads, Road Safety and the TAC, Jaala Pulford and representatives from our local emergency services in July.
“In terms of the Black Spur, we know more can be done and needs to be done to both improve safety and improve information and traffic management when closures occur.
“That’s why we have been calling on the Victorian Government to urgently undertake an independent safety audit of the Maroondah Highway through the Black Spur.
“Victorian Minister for Roads, Road Safety and the TAC, Jaala Pulford spoke in Parliament on Monday 12 August about the audit currently being carried out by her department, and advised that the expected completion date for this audit has been brought forward to September this year. The Minister also announced some funding for immediate improvements, we understand this will include improved signage, safety barriers and line marking. I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of Council, to thank the Victorian Government for responding to escalating concerns from our, and the Yarra Ranges’, community and other users of the road.
“We also understand that the installation of ‘electronic variable message boards’ is proposed to enable more timely information about the current conditions on the road and road closures. Additionally, Council has raised with Victorian Government, the value of a government-led feasibility study into an alternate or secondary route between the Yarra Ranges and our Shire,” Cr McAulay said.
“Rest assured, Council takes road safety very seriously, and we aren’t sitting back waiting for other people to solve the problem. We are actively looking for ways we can facilitate safer road infrastructure, and encourage safe driving.
“At this moment in time though, I would like to take the opportunity to express, on behalf of Murrindindi Shire Council, condolences to all those touched by the tragedy on the Black Spur of Friday 9 August,” Cr McAulay said.