Australia has seen its fair share of horrific accidents over the past year, and now there’s a strong push from state governments to reduce speeds and improve road conditions across the board in a bid to save lives.
While the overall number of deaths on the road has decreased over the past 40 years, he first half of 2018 has already recorded 389 deaths on the nation’s roads – up 7.8 per cent on the same time last year.
The staggering number has led both New South Wales and Queensland to consider reducing speed limits, while cyclists in Victoria are calling for cars to keep a mandatory 1.5 metre gap between them when overtaking in 60 kilometre per hour zones.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian is proposing drivers in high-pedestrian areas, such as train stations, shopping areas and hospitals, be forced to slow down to 40km/h to help reduce the number of pedestrian deaths in the state.
“There are particular hot spots around pedestrian areas where unfortunately too many drivers don’t slow down,” Berejiklian said on Sunday. “We need to make sure we consider reducing speed in those key areas.”
In Queensland, politicians are contemplating reducing speeds on the M1, the highway that connects Brisbane to the Gold Coast, after a successful trial during the Commonwealth Games that cut speed limits by 10km/h.
Queensland’s Transport and Main Roads Department reported fewer accidents on the highway during the trial. Dozens of other locations in the sunshine state are also under review for speed limit reductions, with 60km/h zones in the spotlight.
Meanwhile, cyclists have been at the centre of a number of nasty accidents and road rage incidents as peddlers and drivers battle it out for space on the road. Last month 90,000 drivers launched a petition on change.org, that slammed cyclists for clogging up the roads by riding side by side and in groups. The petition claimed cyclists’ behaviour was causing major safety hazards and that taxpayer money “is being wasted every time an expensive bike lane is built on a main road”.
Current Australian road rules state cyclists are allowed to ride alongside one other rider, as long as they are travelling within 1.5m of each other.
The federal government says it’s committed to making roads around the country safer for both cyclists and drivers – and if that means reducing speed limits, so be it.
Deputy PM Michael McCormack previously told Starts at 60 in a statement: “The Australian Government is committed to reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by road crashes in Australia, working with State and Territory Governments through the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020. The national Strategy recognises the importance of creating safer road environments for cyclists and other vulnerable road users.”