Road barrier ‘saved lives’

Liz Bell

POLICE say road barriers prevented a potential disaster when a car carrying a trailer smashed into the centre railing on the Princes Highway between Sale and Stratford on Monday.

Acting Sergeant Daniel Binotto from Wellington Traffic Management Unit said the barrier stopped the Ford utility from veering into oncoming traffic, when it hit the railing at speed about 6.15am.

“In this incident, the barrier most definitely worked to save lives,” he said.

“It could have been terrible.”

Sergeant Binotto said the driver was heading toward Stratford, and was near the cemetery when a “mechanical failure” caused his vehicle to veer suddenly and hit the centre road barrier.

The force pulled the utility and trailer about 120 metres along the barrier before the vehicles came to a stop, but miraculously did not cause any major damage to the structure.

The driver, who will not be charged over the accident and who was not exceeding the speed limit, was lucky to escape without injury.

The controversial Armco road barriers have drawn widespread criticism from drivers, many who claim the barriers are dangerous and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

A number of local motorists have highlighted issues such as the lack of accessibility for emergency service vehicles, the narrow buffers on the sides of some roads, and motorcycle safety concerns.

Emergency services have claimed the lack of roadside access for fire services and ambulances has slowed response times to incidents and risked lives.

Almost 2000 kilometres of the barriers are being rolled out across the state, on main roads such as the Princes Highway, which carry the most traffic, and on smaller roads where the data shows the most accidents are happening.

Sgt Binotto’s comments back claims made by the Transport Accident Commission that the barriers save lives.

Chief executive Joe Calafiore has previously told the Gippsland Times that centre and roadside barriers were the most effective way to reduce the impacts of the run-off and head-on road crashes common in country Victoria, reducing the fatalities and serious injuries sustained from these crashes by up to 90 per cent.

In 2017 safety barriers were hit more than 1700 times.

Wire rope barriers, which consist of highly-tensioned wire rope supported by steel posts, are being installed on the Princes Highway between Sale and Bairnsdale, despite local concerns and calls from the Independent Riders Group to halt their installation across the state because of the death of a motorcyclist on the Calder Freeway last year.

The barriers will be installed along 20 high-risk rural roads and median strips by the end of 2019, at a cost of $450 million, as part of a $1 billion road safety package.

A total 155 people died on country Victorian roads last year. In the Gippsland region, 21 of the 28 lives lost on the road were a result of run-off road crashes.