Tasmania’s population is spread across the state and much of our travel necessarily occurs on high-speed rural roads. These roads connect us with our family and friends, provide access to sporting, social and economic activities. Our rural roads are twisty and hilly. The frequent advisory sign warning us to slow down for an oncoming corner highlights the challenges of driving in Tasmania. Misjudging a corner or veering onto a gravel road shoulder can easily result in loss of control and collision with a roadside hazard or an oncoming vehicle. The twists and turns also attract recreational motorcyclists, and sadly, riders represent one in three of those seriously injured or killed on these roads.
Infrastructure treatments can help reduce the likelihood of these crashes and reduce crash harm. To be most effective, complete road corridors need to be improved to provide a consistent and predictable road environment. However, infrastructure works are expensive, and our rural roads don’t often attract priority funding due to their low traffic volumes.
Under the Towards Zero Action Plan 2020-2024 (Action Plan), the Tasmanian Government has established a new grants program to work collaboratively with councils on local roads. Funding will help councils assess and install low-cost infrastructure safety solutions.
Simple delineation treatments, such as line marking, reflective pavement markers, guideposts, speed and curve warning advisory signage, all help to alert drivers to the road conditions ahead, day and night. Removal of roadside hazards and the installation of safety barriers can also reduce the severity of run-off road crashes. Ultimately, we must also tackle the issue of safe speeds on our roads. Travel speeds need to be aligned with the inherent safety features of the road, what we know about safe travel speeds, and traffic mix. Enforcement and public education also play a key role in moderating travel speeds and help us arrive home safely.
This program will fund councils to implement mass action infrastructure treatments on their high-speed rural roads. The aim of this program is to significantly reduce lane departure crashes and to minimise the harm when they do occur.
Continued investment in state roads that have lower traffic volumes, where cost effective treatments such as shoulder sealing, pavement markings, curve warnings, road side hazard removal and safety barriers will achieve safety outcomes and maximum value for money.
To improve safety for all motorcyclists, road safety audits will be conducted on high-risk touring routes across Tasmania. A Safe System approach will inform these audits, and local motorcyclists are integral to the process of assessing the design and risks of a road. Audit findings will be shared with stakeholders to identify countermeasures that often go beyond typical infrastructure solutions.
The community will be engaged to inform and build support for action on safer speeds. As part of this process, consideration will be given to how enforcement can more effectively increase compliance with speed limits.
Training sessions, workshops and forums will be facilitated across Tasmania to improve the Safe System knowledge of all those in a position to influence road safety outcomes. This will increase the capacity of our state to build safety-improving road infrastructure that benefits everyone.