Shire volunteers for road safety trial

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THE state government is being urged to use the Mornington Peninsula as a testing ground for a program aimed at reducing the road to nil by 2050.

The “horror year” which in 2019 saw 14 deaths on peninsula roads combined with its own Towards Zero policy has prompted the shire to volunteer the peninsula as a site for the state Safe System trial.

The move came as the council ratified an “ambitious” submission by traffic and transport team leader Tom Haines-Sutherland to a parliamentary inquiry into the increase in Victoria’s road toll to 266.

It also follows a reduction in speed limits to 80kph on 40 peninsula roads.

The submission, drafted with the input of road safety expert Dr Bruce Corben, calls on the state government to spend up to $150 million over 10 years on the trial to “address all of the highest risk locations and common crash types on both state-and shire-managed roads” on the peninsula.

Mr Haines-Sutherland described the Safe System approach as international best practice in road safety as acknowledged in the state government’s 2016-2020 road safety strategy.

“Despite this, it has not been fully implemented at a large scale anywhere across the state,” he said.

“A Safe System approach includes addressing road safety issues through four pillars: safer roads, safer people, safer vehicles and safer speeds.”

Mr Haines-Sutherland said a demonstration of the Safe System approach would “significantly improve road safety on the peninsula [which] could be expanded across the state”.

The mayor Cr Sam Hearn said the shire was putting itself out there “as a leader in road safety”.

“The trial goes beyond just speed and looks at all aspects of road safety,” he said.

Cr Hearn said the peninsula was unique because of its geography and diversity of towns, main roads, rural roads, and other aspects affecting road safety. “Compared with other areas we are the best place to trial it.”

The state government launched an inquiry into last year’s high number of fatalities across the state with the aim of cutting deaths to zero by 2050.

“The shire is considered a leader in road safety, demonstrated by council’s early adoption of the Towards Zero mission in 2016, our innovative Safer Residential Areas Program and, more recently, our implementation of the Safer Speeds Trial, among other programs,” Mr Haines-Sutherland said.

“The inquiry gives the shire an ideal opportunity to provide feedback on the legislative, policy and funding challenges that local government faces in our role in working Towards Zero trauma on our roads, and to propose a new approach to road safety practice.”

Mr Haines-Sutherland said the submission “highlighted the shire’s commitment to road safety through a collaborative and innovative approach”.

The council ratified his submission and offered Mornington Peninsula Shire as a Safe System demonstration site.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 3 March 2020

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