While new road construction and safety focussed retrofits are expensive, when well planned, designed and managed they can provide lasting safety benefits to road users. Research in Victoria and South Australia has shown that expenditure can produce crash savings with a value at least 10 times the cost of the infrastructure.
A safe road transport system starts with better planning. Urban planning decisions in particular have the potential to influence how the road network is used and what infrastructure investments are required. Liveability and sustainability are becoming more important to the community and are priorities for the 30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide. The changes to Adelaide envisaged in the 30 Year Plan, particularly the priority afforded to investment in public transport, has the potential to produce significant road safety benefits. These benefits could be further increased if road safety criteria were explicitly included in the planning process so that safe road environments are provided for pedestrians, cyclists, light and heavy vehicles and for South Australia’s ageing population (for example by 2020 approximately 20% of the States population will be aged 65 and over.)
It has not always been clear to the road user that different roads in South Australia’s road network perform different functions. Applying a clear functional hierarchy of roads that is more deliberately articulated to the community, would assist road users to understand the road environment. Roadways serve a variety of functions, including, but not limited to, the provision of direct access to properties, pedestrian and bicycle paths, bus routes and catering for through traffic. Regardless of their main function, all roads need to be managed with the safety of the road users as a priority.
In the long term, greater consistency in the road network will support better compliance with speed limits, which are ideally set to be consistent with the function and design standard of the road. During the life of the strategy we will move closer to consistent speed limits for roads with similar functions, design standards and access management.
Infrastructure investment is expensive and it is important that funding is applied where it will achieve the most benefits. South Australia will continue to improve its methods for developing and targeting effective infrastructure programs, including regular safety assessments and audits of the network, and monitoring of the effectiveness of new programs. More investment in safety focussed improvement programs will be needed to support achievement of the new safety targets, and the continual dedication of fine revenue to safety programs in South Australia will support this. Irrespective of the level of investment the greatest share will be allocated to where the greatest potential trauma and risk reductions are possible. The investment will also be focussed on the most effective treatments that can be applied to the key crash types consistent with safe system principles.
Most South Australian rural roads are two-way, two lane roads with unforgiving roadsides. In 2008-2010, over 65% of all fatal and serious injury crashes on rural roads involved losing control of the vehicle, the majority hitting a fixed object or rolling over. South Australia is applying a number of measures which have been proven to reduce the trauma resulting from run-off-road crashes. This includes sealed shoulders and audio tactile edge lines which reduce the risk of vehicles leaving the roadway, and clear zones and safety barriers to prevent vehicles from striking roadside objects.
Priority will be given to treating those sections of the road network where most run-off-road crashes occur or a risk assessment has indicated they are likely to occur. Giving initial priority to treating curved sections of roads has been shown to provide higher risk reductions for each dollar invested.
Treatments which reduce run-off-road crashes will also reduce head-on crashes, which often result from a loss of control situation when vehicles leave the road to the left, over-correct and enter the opposing traffic lane. This also means that median treatments including wire rope barriers, wide painted medians and audio tactile lines have a significant role to play.
Run-off-road crashes particularly those involving a fixed object are also a major issue in urban areas where the main types of objects struck are trees and stobie poles. While expensive, safety considerations will be given greater priority in the program to replace stobie poles.
Over 50% of serious casualty crashes in urban areas, and 27% in rural areas, occur at intersections. One of the most difficult tasks undertaken by drivers is to judge gaps in the opposing traffic when turning right or entering a major road from a local road. Effective treatments will reduce the frequency at which drivers need to make these individual judgements.
Appropriate treatments for urban intersections can be complex to develop and implement. The best site-specific mix is dependant on the type and volume of traffic and factors, such as the space available for redesign and the land use around the intersection. A program of intersection treatments will be developed including installing roundabouts at suitable locations, and reducing uncontrolled right turns. In some cases, the most appropriate treatment to improve safety may be to use engineering treatments or speed limit changes. The aim is to reduce speed through the intersection particularly where there are high volumes of pedestrians or cyclists. 27% of rural casualty crashes also occur at intersections where the most effective solution is often the installation of a roundabout.
Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists
In urban areas provision for people walking and cycling is important and in some locations these modes should be given priority over motorised traffic when designing the road network. Infrastructure initiatives to address the particular needs of vulnerable road users will include the provision of safe and separate facilities for people walking and cycling, as well as the provision of a safe speed environment when separation is not possible. We cannot continue to define cycle lanes as a painted white line that peters out when it gets too hard. Promotion and facilitation of safe shared-use pathways for cycling and walking and safer speeds will help encourage people to move away from the dominant car culture and re-establish active transport as an attractive and healthier alternative to driving.
Motorcyclists are also vulnerable to greater injury when involved in a crash and high use motorcycle routes will be identified and the feasibility of removing hazards assessed. Funding this motorcycle infrastructure investment through a motorcycle safety fund will be explored, along with consideration of the relative costs of compulsory third party insurance premiums.
Figure 4 Serious casualty crashes, by crash type, South Australia, 2008-2010
A large number of crashes occure at intersections in both urban and rural areas but single run-off-road crashes account for around two thirds of all rural crashes. For minor injuries, the most common crash type is a rear-end crash.
Key Strategies for Safer Roads
|Number of single vehicle run-off-road serious casualty crashes.||
|Number of intersection serious casualty crashes.||