Wednesday, 17 May 2023


Road safety

Road safety

Bev McARTHUR (Western Victoria) (18:09): (228) My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure and concerns the urgent problem with road infrastructure in Victoria, particularly country Victoria. This is not an impending crisis, something terrible which might happen one day if we do not deal with it now. It is an immediate problem. It is happening now. We know about problems of driver behaviour – speed, drink, drugs. But the condition of the roads is a critical factor, as those of us who drive on them regularly understand, and on this day dedicated to our SES volunteers I pay tribute to the brave and committed men and women who deal with sometimes horrific and distressing situations and yet keep putting themselves out there to keep us safe. We owe it to those volunteers, as well as the victims and families of serious and fatal road accidents, to do everything reasonable in our power to reduce the road toll.

So I was shocked to read the minister’s response to my adjournment debate of 8 February, when I asked for a breakdown of the percentage of serious and fatal road accidents where investigating officers identified road conditions as a contributing factor. I was told the data is not available:

… while road conditions are assessed by Victoria Police as part of serious and fatal road accident investigations, the overall evaluation of the environment is holistic in nature and does not allow for the requested data reporting.

How can this be? With the bureaucracy imposed on police officers, and with a transport department full of officials and statisticians, do we really have no figures on how often road conditions contribute to serious road accidents? And what exactly does a ‘holistic in nature’ assessment tell us? Simple figures showing when accidents result from the condition of the road should be routinely collected.

Accidents can be caused by hitting potholes, by dangerously uneven road surfaces, by crumbling road shoulders or by vehicles swerving onto or driving on the wrong side of the road to avoid these hazards. These factors are apparent to investigators, and they must be recorded. How else can we tell what is truly causing the road toll? How else can we determine where to allocate resources in dealing with it? Serious and fatal road accidents have many, various and complex causes, but understanding the extent to which road surface conditions affect the statewide toll is an essential prerequisite to dealing with the problem properly. So the action I seek from the minister is a commitment to revamp the system and to record in a quantifiable way the impact of road conditions on serious and fatal road accidents.