More rule changes considered to improve safety on SA freeway

By: Paul Howell

Forum considers a third arrester bed and further speed limit reductions for heavy vehicles on deadly freeway descent.

More rule changes considered to improve safety on SA freeway
South Australian transport minister Stephen Mullighan.


More than 38 stakeholders in the road transport and road safety fields met in Adelaide last week to consider new risk reduction strategies on the Southeast Freeway.

The approach to Adelaide includes what many consider to be the longest and most dangerous descent in Australia.

The 8.9km downhill stretch has seen several fatal accidents and near-misses in the road’s 14 year history.

Most recently, a truck collided with several stationary vehicles in August. It is believed the vehicle entered the intersection at the base of the descent at 150km per hour, having lost control of speed earlier in the descent. Two people died and two others were seriously injured.

The South Australia Government has since reduced the speed limit for heavy vehicles to 60km per hour, with other motorists limited to 90km per hour.

Transport and infrastructure minister Stephen Mullighan says the road safety forum considered further proposals to eliminate crashes on the freeway.

"More than 38 participants across the industry – including heavy vehicle operators, SA Police, industry associations and the (Transport Workers) Union – considered about 48 different proposals to improve safety on the South Eastern Freeway," he says.

"The proposals that were put forward were a result of previously-held individual meetings and submissions from industry, and participants looked at the positives and negatives of (each)."

SA Road Transport Association executive director Steve Shearer says the group narrowed the options to a list of 10 that will now be considered in closer detail.

Among this collection of strategies were further education for truck drivers — both on the freeway itself and among transport companies — a further reduced speed limit of 40km per hour for heavy vehicles and a third arrester bed at the very base of the descent.

Shearer says SARTA favours the additional arrester bed and reduced speed limit. He says 40km per hour will force drivers to use a more appropriate lower gear on the descent, thereby reducing the load pressure on brakes.

"Some people are going to be angry (about a reduced speed limit) but we have to put the priority on saving lives," he says.

"It will cost (drivers) a few minutes in extra time – we’d rather lose (that) than someone else’s life."

One further community consultation is expected before final decisions are made.

"The Government will now seek the community’s views before implementing the agreed measures to improve safety on the South Eastern Freeway," Mullighan says.

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