RACV and its equivalent clubs across Australia run the Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP). AusRAP assesses the safety of selected major highways using two methods. One method assesses the standard of the infrastructure and the other the crash history of the road. It is critical for both the State and Federal Governments to commit to eliminating the lowest standard sections of road – the worst major highways in Victoria. This is the most effective way of reducing fatalities and serious injuries on our roads.
1. AusRAP Star Rating of highway safety features
Star ratings assess the standard of road infrastructure; in particular those characteristics most known to contribute to crashes or to increase their severity. It is a pro-active measure that identifies where severe crashes could occur, based upon what has contributed to or prevented crashes elsewhere. Star ratings help road users to know where the safest roads are, and road managers to know where there are road sections that need to be fixed.
In 2014, RACV released updated star ratings for most of Victoria’s major highways that provide the connections between Victoria’s largest cities and towns, and to interstate destinations. The roads that were assessed were:
- Princes Freeway / Highway West
- Western Freeway / Highway
- Calder Freeway / Highway
- Sturt Highway
- Goulburn Valley Highway
- Hume Freeway
- Princes Freeway / Highway East
- M80 Metropolitan Ring Road.
The majority of the roads assessed can receive funding from both the Federal and State Governments, with the exception of the Princes Highway East, beyond Sale and Princes Highway West, beyond Colac, which are wholly the responsibility of the State Government.
The roads were rated on a scale of 1 to 5-stars, with a 1-star road being the least safe and 5-star the safest.
RACV wants the State and Federal Governments to commit to a four year program of safety upgrades to eliminate the 1 and 2-star sections of these highways. RACV estimates that this will cost $580 million and would save at least 2,800 people from serious injury or death on these roads over the next 20 years.
This 2016/17 State Budget made a $49 million commitment of Transport Accident Commission (TAC) funds in to implement many of the safety measures recommended by RACV and AusRAP for Victoria’s roads, including crash barriers and better line-marking. This is in addition to a prior commitment of $100 million per annum for safety improvements across the State.
The 2014 assessment found the Calder Highway has the highest proportion of its length being 1 and 2-star, of all the major highways in Victoria. 49% of the Calder Highway between Melbourne and Mildura was 1 and 2-star, with almost all the affected sections being between Bendigo and Mildura. This the most critical safety upgrade identified by RACV.
A breakdown of the results for each of the highways is available in the RACV Regional Victoria Growing Pains report. The AusRAP star rating assessment was completed in accordance with the protocols of the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP).
2. AusRAP Risk Rating
Risk rating assesses where crashes have been happening on roads. The crashes might arise from driver behaviour, fatigue, a mistake or an infrastructure deficiency. Risk rating helps road users understand their personal risks from using a particular section of road, based upon what has happened to other road users. RACV is finalising an updated risk rating for some of Victoria’s busiest rural roads.