Freeway speed clamp follows Transpacific crash

By: Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi

SARTA calls for more improvements as lower limit is backed by industry and motoring group

Freeway speed clamp follows Transpacific crash
Freeway truck speed has been tackled by the South Australian Government


The speed limit for all trucks on Adelaide’s South Eastern Freeway is down to 60kmph following last week’s Transpacific tragedy.

The South Australian Government has lowered the speed between Crafers exit and the toll gate following an incident last Monday when a truck lost control, killing two people and injuring a driver.

The speed limit for other cars has also been changed to 90km/h and will come into effect on September 1. All trucks will be required to travel in the left lane.

The South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) had called on the Government last Thursday to introduce such a measure, which was implemented a day later.

SARTA executive director Steve Shearer says out of the 500,000 trucks that travel on the freeway each year, around five fail to drive safely.

"We know at least half of the ones that come into trouble have been from interstate and we know that a couple of them have said they haven’t come down the hill before," Shearer says.

"The truth is SARTA has proposed the speed reduction and the government saw sense in immediately adopting what we suggested.

"If the general motoring community had the same safety record we would have very few fatal accidents on our roads."

He also wants the Government to build a third arrester bed on the freeway as the first is rarely used due to its location.

"The first arrester bed hardly ever gets used because trucks are usually not in trouble by the time they get to the first arrester bed and the first arrester bed is just around the left hand corner and a truck driver who is in trouble is not going to pull hard to the left," Shearer says.

"If the third arrester bed only stops two out of three incidents, that is still better than stopping none.

"We are very disappointed and frustrated that the government sources keep saying no, that they’ve looked at the option and said it’ll never work out but they haven’t showed us why," he adds.

"We don’t believe them; we think it’s actually about money and if it is about money that makes us even angrier because they’re prepared to spend $5.6 billion dollars on the full upgrade of the north-south corridor, which is great but they’re telling us they can’t find two or three million dollars for a third arrester bed, which just doesn’t make sense."

In a letter to the government, SARTA has asked the government to install speed cameras on the freeway which would be linked to intelligent systems and variable signs, warning those who travel too fast. 

"This would have the benefit of dealing with the mindset of any driver who elects to travel faster, as even if they think they are safe, they don’t have to pay a fine," Shearer says.

Motoring group RAA executive Charles Mountain has welcomed the speed reduction but says the situation needs attention due to congestion issues in the left lane.

"It will mean that there will be some additional congestion so that will need to be monitored," Mountain says.

"We have also requested that the government set up a working group to look at the overall safety strategy for that whole section of the freeway and we are also suggesting things such as improved signage and increased driver awareness will need to be looked at as well as the possibility of additional safety ramps.

"There will always be an argument whether it would have  been appropriate to reduce the speed limit beforehand; I guess what we have seen from the result of last Monday’s crash is that the community is now supportive of lower speed limits in this section of the road."

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