TAC response to proposed speed limit increase on Princes Highway

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10 Feb 2017

When weighing up calls for a 10km/h speed limit increase between Geelong and Werribee, it's worth considering a simple question: Is saving a bit more than two minutes in travel time worth the rise in deaths and injuries the increase would bring?

Given the proven links between higher speeds and increased road trauma, the Transport Accident Commission cannot support any call for a 110km/h limit on that stretch of the Princes Fwy.

The TAC and its road safety partners at Victoria Police, VicRoads and the Department of Justice are not against 110km/h limits where it is safe and appropriate, like on the Hume Highway.

The Princes Freeway is different in that it has three lanes and much higher traffic volumes, adding to the complexity of lane changing manoeuvres and creating a more hazardous environment for motorists.

In the late 1980s, a number of Victorian freeways were increased to 110 km/h.

After three years, a study found crashes on these roads increased by about 25 per cent compared to roads where the speed limit remained at 100 km/h.

Scientific crash-risk modelling undertaken by VicRoads has found the impact of raising the limit between Geelong and Werribee would be even worse, predicting a 30 per cent rise in fatal and serious injury crashes.

But this is not about numbers. It’s about everyday Victorians, their wives, husbands, children, siblings and parents. We need to put their lives ahead of all other considerations if we are going to achieve our Towards Zero vision.

Those in favour of a speed limit increase regularly raise the issue of people speeding on the Princes Fwy to support their calls. Department of Justice figures show that less than 300 people a day are picked up for speeding by the extensive safety camera network between Geelong and Melbourne. If that seems like a big number, consider the 371,000 who use that stretch on the average day without receiving a fine.

Last year, the TAC launched a new campaign asking Victorians to think differently about speed. Instead of viewing speed through the prism of speed limits and police enforcement, we want Victorian to understand that every speed has a consequence, legal or otherwise. Speed is not responsible for every crash, but in every crash it does determine how badly those involved are hurt.

Imagine if someone you care about never came home because someone wanted to get home a little sooner.

Joe Calafiore

This Opinion was published in the Geelong Advertiser on 10 February 2017 under the headline "Crash-risk data tempers call for speed".

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