Victorian country roads wired for safety

The progress of wire barriers in Victoria.
The progress of wire barriers in Victoria.

ALMOST a thousand kilometres of Victoria's country roads will have safety wire barrier installed before the end of next year.  

The Transport Accident Commission will spend $440 million to have the wire barriers - designed to absorb the force of a crash - added to the side and median strip of the state's top 20 high-risk rural roads.  

"They're a critical part of getting the road toll down … we hope the barrier will give drivers on these roads a sense of comfort," VicRoads chief executive John Merritt said.  

Mr Merritt said 95 per cent of hits to the wire barrier - which he considered the most forgiving barrier - resulted in a car being able to drive away.  

He said a third of the Hume Highway in Victoria's North East, which already had the wire barrier in place, proved how the wire worked.

"It was hit 114 times in the last financial year … had they not hit the barrier they would have suffered catastrophically," he said.  

Veteran truck driver Brian Somers experienced the wire rope first-hand earlier this year, when the semi-trailer he was driving blew a steer tyre as he travelled at 100km/h on the Bass Highway at Grantville.  

"I went from the left hand lane on to the grass (of the median) in no time," Mr Somers said.  

"The rope has a fair bit of flex in it, and I probably pushed it out a metre … if the rope hadn't been there it would have been curtains for someone."  

Mr Somers said the wire was "basically the same height as the bumper bar" on his 16-tonne truck.  

"I'm surprised I didn't roll, I always thought (the wire) wouldn't help. 

I'm still uncertain about a loaded truck and the motorbike riders see them as very bad, but I've spoken to 30 or 40 drivers who seem to think it's beneficial."  

TAC's road safety director Samantha Cockfield said there was no evidence to suggest the wire was particularly unsafe for motorbike riders.  

"There was a lot of talk when the wire barrier first went in that it would act like a cheese grater (for motorcyclists), but reality has shown that hasn't happened," Ms Cockfield said.  

Ms Cockfield said the wire barriers were funded by TAC as part of the $1 billion Safer Road Infrastructure Program.

Topics:  road safety state government funding victoria

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