A spike in fatalities on country roads this year has put speed limits on rural roads under the spotlight again.
Traffic Accident Commission (TAC) data showed 59 fatalities took place on rural roads since the beginning of the year, with 22 deaths the result of a vehicle running off a straight road.
Four deaths have occurred on roads in Glenelg, Moyne, Corangamite, Southern Grampians and Warrnambool local government areas since January 1.
By May 14 last year, 48 fatalities had occurred on rural roads, and by the same date in 2015, there had been 53 deaths.
Victoria Police assistant commissioner for road policing command Doug Fryer recently spoke out about his concern that high speed limits on b and c class country roads were contributing to the toll after 12 people died during a 13-day campaign in April over the Easter weekend and Anzac Day, operation nexus.
Ten of the deaths were on country roads.
“I want this to be a reminder to the community that country roads are inherently dangerous when compared to metro,” Mr Fryer said. “The speed limit is the same on a b and c class road, still 100, and the only thing that stops you having a head on, at best, is a single white line up the middle – if in fact there is one.”
“What I’m asking everyone to do, particularly those in the country, let’s just consider what the default is on some of these b and c class roads. Is it safe to be travelling at 100 or do we need to rethink what the appropriate speed limit is for those roads that carry minor amounts of traffic but still have trauma on them?”
Mr Fryer said there was no way physical safety measures could be put in across the state’s vast road network.
He said travelling at 100 km/h on unsealed roads was unsafe, and roads should be assessed and speed limits of 70 or 80 km/h implemented.
“We think if we progress this and we start having conversations about speeds in country areas, that we can save lives. Not think, we know that we can,” Mr Fryer said.
Great South Coast Regional Alliance chair Kylie Gaston rejected the idea lower speed limits were the sole solution.
“There should be a greater focus on impacts due to the quality of the road network – greater travel times for country residents and economic impacts on country businesses which ultimately impacts on quality of life” Cr Gaston said.