Risk mapping crashes
AusRAP Risk Maps highlight those sections of road that are riskier than others based on casualty crashes that have been recorded and traffic flow. This provides a measure of the safety performance of a road. Risk Maps have been produced for the National Highway Network, on which road crash fatalities typically account for around 15 per cent of annual road fatalities in Australia.
In 2016, RACV and the Australian Automobile Association, assessed 1,634km of major highways in Victoria with a speed limit of 90km/h and above by looking at the crashes that occurred from 2010-2014 (the latest available data nationally). Those crashes were the result of factors related to driver behaviour, the vehicle and/or the safety of the road. Each highway section was assigned a risk rating from low to high.
The results found that sections of the Calder and Goulburn Valley Highways have crash problems and may need funding for safety upgrades. The study also found that the recently upgraded Nagambie Bypass on the Goulburn Valley Highway is the safest section of the national network in Australia.
Before the Nagambie Bypass was built it was a notorious stretch of road. This 17 km freeway bypass has taken truck and through-traffic off Nagambie’s main road. The risk assessment result for the Nagambie Bypass tells us that road improvements like bypasses dramatically increase safety.
However there are many rural Victorian roads needed urgent attention. Our analysis identified the five worst sections of highway in Victoria, which accounted for less than nine per cent of the kilometres reviewed, but recorded nearly 25 per cent of the crashes and 15 per cent of deaths. The riskiest five sections are:
- Princes Freeway from Western Ring Road to Hoppers Crossing
- Goulburn Valley Highway from Numurkah to NSW border
- Western Freeway from Western Ring Road to Melton (Deer Park Bypass)
- Princes Freeway from Nar Nar Goon to Warragul
- Nar Nar Goon to Warragul from Ballarat (Sunraysia Hwy) to Beaufort.
Previous assessments of the standard of infrastructure (see the Star Ratings section below) found that the Calder Highway north of Bendigo was mostly a 1 and 2-star road. Similarly the Goulburn Valley Highway around Strathmerton was a 2-star road. This new crash assessment has found that the same sections of road have poor crash records.
Some of the best sections identified are those that have received Federal and State funding for safety improvements and duplications in recent years. Investing in safer country highways not only saves lives and serious injuries through improved safety, but it also saves the community through reductions in medical and ongoing care costs as a result of serious injuries sustained in road crashes. Substantial upgrades to the road network have also been completed since the rating period of 2010-2014 and the benefits of these investments are expected to show in future assessments.
For example, a $1 billion, ten year program to improve the safety of Victoria’s roads is underway, including crash barriers and other low-cost road improvements and some of this program has since been spent on roads assessed as part of this RACV/AAA study.
Another recent example is a $36 million investment on the Princes Highway East through the TAC Safer Road Infrastructure Program to deliver a range of road safety improvement projects. Treatments included traditional road safety treatments (e.g. roadside barriers, shoulder sealing and rumble strips) and innovative ones (coloured guide posts). Preliminary post-completion analysis of the improvements made to two road sections under that investment costing just under $20 million indicates the following improvements:
- actual reduction in serious injuries of 44% (with the AusRAP model predicting 42%)
- an estimated 56 serious casualties saved per year for each AUD$100m invested
- elimination of all AusRAP 1- and 2-star (least safe) sections and a 36% increase in road length at 4-star or better (safest).
These examples highlight the returns in investing in Victoria’s country highways. With 2016 being a bad year on our roads, RACV expects a stronger commitment in the 2017 State and Federal Budgets towards making Victoria’s country highways substantially safer. RACV will shortly commence reassessing the star ratings of Victoria’s country highway network.
For more information on the risk assessment, including an interactive map that lets you see the results of highways in your area, visit the AAA risk mapping website.
Read past reports
Note: due to changes in the methodology, the 2016 results are not directly comparable with past results.