Finding a balanced solution

February 28, 2018

The installation of wire rope barriers on a section of the Midland Hwy between Shepparton and Stanhope has created debate about whether they will improve road safety, or cause more accidents.

When it comes to road safety and improvements to infrastructure, those tasked with taking action often find themselves in a difficult position.

They have to identify high-risk areas, consult with the public and find informed and appropriate solutions that are in the best interests of the entire community’s safety.

A case in point is the plans to install a centreline wire rope barrier on a section of the Midland Hwy, which has created some debate in our pages in recent weeks.

Residents along the stretch of road in question are concerned the works have the potential to be counter-productive and could lead to more accidents.

They fear the road would not be wide enough for larger farming machinery, trucks and milk tankers — they fear the works will create ‘‘a monster’’.

These are valid and noteworthy concerns that should be addressed.

But they have to be balanced with the facts from the other side of the debate.

They are that the Midland Hwy, between Shepparton and Stanhope, was identified as one of the state’s top 20 highest risk rural roads, with 79 crashes resulting in 32 serious injuries and three deaths between January 2010 and February last year.

The wire rope barriers are said to be a strong solution to reduce the number of head-on and run-off-the-road crashes on the section of the road.

VicRoads said upgrades were designed to factor in the needs of road users, including the freight and farming industries.

They face a difficult task to provide solutions that are effective and practical for most of the community, but there is always potential for resistance.

The concerns raised are not insignificant, they should be communicated to and hopefully fears can be allayed about the impacts.

But we should always keep sight of the wider goal that is in place with projects as part of the Towards Zero campaign.

At its core, the campaign has an ambitious goal to achieve a reality of no lives lost on our roads.

This is not an outcome that can happen overnight, but ultimately what we want to see is the number of lives lost on our roads heading on a downward trajectory.

We hope that projects such as this one can continue to contribute towards this.

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