Saturday, 29 July 2017


" NEW wire rope barriers on the Goulburn Valley Highway are already saving lives ..."

This is the latest propaganda from the tax-funded spin doctors at VicRoads. It come via Roads Minister Donnellan in Melbourne's Herald Sun this time. Please note, the lack of advice from anyone who might offered a balancing comment.

The key word in this article is "may".

I know from Parliamentary Inquiries and from personal experience at the Victorian Coroner's Court that crash site investigations in this State do not always yield reliable crash data. In this case the Minister parrots opinion, he does not present facts. I thought Donnellan MP was better than this.

The data from these seven WRB strikes almost certainly does not come from forensic investigations of crash sites by specially trained officers. Most likely bent WRB post are spotted by VicRoads' staff who drive the road every few days to check the new barrier. No training. No method.

If just one of these seven vehicle strikes on this part of the Goulburn Valley Highway was a tired driver who drifted into the fence in the small hours of the morning, bent ten or fifteen posts and kept driving then there was no threat to anyone in one in seven of these crashes.

And reduced speed limits may mean there were fewer, less-severe strikes than will occur when normal highway speed return ... if they ever do.

If speed limits do return to normal how will this WRB perform? Legitimate question. There's no test results available for reliable, independent experts to study. 

The old WRB test videos I have seen show the WRB stretch when hit by a car.  It allows cars that are caught just right, that do not cross the WRB to move to the other side of the WRB post line then get slung back into same direction traffic. Cars that cross the post line face oncoming traffic. And they do cross WRB post lines too often. This fact this is rarely identified in police crash reports. The data is "cleansed" by a team at Vicroads. 

Cleansed is a quote from the 2012 Parliamentary Inquiry transcripts. That Inquiry recommended that a road crash data authority be set up independent of VicRoads and VicPol. That is unlikely to happen, regardless of public safety, because the Victorian Government's response to Parliamentary Inquiries into road safety matters is mostly written by VicRoads/VicPol/TAC.

IF a dividing barrier is required, and I'm not convinced it is, then a smooth concrete barrier is more effective at stopping head-on crashes. It lasts a lot longer and requires far less costly maintenance and repairs. All round a much better deal for tax payers and road users. 

The bonus for us is that smooth concrete barriers are safer for motorcycle & scooter riders. BUT, the culture at VicRoads is to discourage motorcycling. Making roads safer for us is less likely if there's no positive spin to be gained from it for VicRoads.

Damien Codognotto OAM
Independent Riders Group 

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