A proud legacy of road safety
VicRoads is Victoria’s road agency managing over 22,000 kilometres of roads, 3,133 bridges, processing more than 22 million transactions a year for 3.7 million licensed drivers and 4.9 million registered vehicles.
Based in offices all over regional and metropolitan Victoria, VicRoads staff help make sure Victorians can get from A to B quickly and safely.
Road safety pioneers
VicRoads has a history of pioneering road safety initiatives which reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads. In 1970, Victoria was the first place in the world to make it compulsory to wear seatbelts – the effect of this change on the road toll was a dramatic reduction.
Other road safety initiatives over the decades have included designing safer roads with skid resistant pavements, improving street lighting in urban areas, compulsory child restraints, introduction of road safety cameras, compulsory bicycle helmet wearing and changes to speed limits.
This determined focus on road safety has resulted in international recognition for VicRoads for innovations in this field. In 2013 Victorian recorded its lowest road toll in 90 years.
Removing distractions while driving
VicRoads is quick to respond to changing trends around driving – particularly regarding the increasing use of mobile phones in cars.
Its ‘Road Mode’ app allows android smartphone users to activate a ‘drive’ mode on their phones – meaning calls and texts are silenced and the message sender is notified that the person they are trying to contact is currently driving.
Late in 2013, VicRoads also increased the penalties for people caught using their mobile phone while driving. At the time, Victoria’s Minister for Roads Terry Mulder said these changes were some of the most significant to road rules in years and reflected the growing problem of distraction, which has the potential to result in deaths and injuries on our roads.
“It’s a scary statistic that 88 per cent of young drivers using mobile phones report reading text messages, and 77 per cent report sending text messages. Sixty per cent of middle-aged drivers report reading texts and 51 per cent report sending them.
“The message clearly isn’t getting through, which is why we are making the fines and penalties even tougher,” said Mr Mulder.
VicRoads Safe Driving Program
Victoria has also introduced an Australian-first program to tackle high risk driving behaviour by “hoons”.
The evidence-based VicRoads program, which has been dubbed “hoon school” by the media, is designed to change the attitudes of dangerous drivers and riders.
From 2013, those road users convicted of a range of offences are ordered to undergo the program in addition to punishments, including heavy fines and vehicle impoundment.
The Road Safety Victoria website – www.roadsafetyvic.gov.au – is a gateway into a huge amount of information about how to stay safe on Victoria’s roads. The site includes lots of interesting facts and figures, and all the latest initiatives to help improve road safety in Victoria.
The website also has information on the Victorian Government’s Road Safety Strategy which aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 30 per cent over ten years. Achieving this target will see Victoria’s annual road toll drop to below 200.
The site is a collaboration between the Transport Accident Commission, Victoria Police, Department of Justice and VicRoads.
Focussing on level crossing removal
VicRoads is working on the planning, preconstruction and delivery for the removal of a number of level crossings across Melbourne as part of the State Government’s Metro Level Crossing Blitz program.
Removing level crossings offers many community benefits including improved traffic flows, fewer delays for road users, and the potential for more train services. Just as importantly, removing level crossings provides a safer and more efficient transport solution for everyone by removing the interaction between motorists, trains, cyclists and pedestrians.
It has been a busy time for the Blitz program, with work well underway on two key level crossing removal projects at Mitcham and Springvale.
In January, the Premier Denis Napthine opened the new premium station located on Mitcham Road, Mitcham. The unveiling marked a significant milestone in the $197 million Mitcham Level Crossing Removal Project, which included two level crossing removals on Mitcham Road and Rooks Road. Both level crossings were removed by constructing the railway lines under the existing road.
This project will result in better traffic flow and improved safety for the 25,500 commuters that travel down Mitcham Road or Rooks Road each day, and greater connectivity with other transport modes.
In addition, an impressive new station has been welcomed by the thousands of passengers that travel on the 200 trains that pass through Mitcham station each and every day. As a premium station, it is staffed around the clock and now includes a new bus interchange, car parking for 800 vehicles, first-class bicycle facilities, a public waiting room and other amenities including retail.
Meanwhile, work is on track to remove the level crossing on Springvale Road, Springvale. Major excavation has seen a tunnel cut under the road to a depth of 6.5 metres to accommodate the rail line. A new premium station is also under development and other works include improved bus, taxi and parking facilities, as well as bicycle and pedestrian amenities.
Expected to be complete 2014, the $159 million Springvale project will significantly ease congestion on a key arterial route in Melbourne’s South East. This is great news for the more than 8,000 vehicles and 80 trains currently travelling through the rail crossing during peak periods every day.
More broadly, planning and preconstruction activities for level crossing removals are underway at North Road, Ormond; Blackburn Road, Blackburn; Main Road, St Albans; Mountain Highway and Scoresby Road, Bayswater; and Burke Road, Glen Iris.
Up close – Mitcham Level Crossing Removal project
- More than 250 people worked 24/7 for three weeks in January during the shutdown of the Belgrave-Lilydale railway line, in extreme weather conditions
- $1 million invested in construction each day
- A rail tunnel eight metres deep was constructed along with 1.8 kilometres of track to slope gradually into and out of the tunnel
- Around 95,000m3 of earth was excavated from the site
- 400 cubic metres of concrete was used
- 6,400 metres of rail was laid.
Building and managing smarter road
The management of traffic on Victoria’s roads is becoming increasingly important as the competing demands placed on the network continue to grow. Use of technology to enable us to manage the roads smarter and more efficiently is vital to providing safe and reliable travel for road users.
The introduction of managed motorways technology – including ramp metering, incident detection and lane use management – onto major Melbourne freeways has already shown tangible benefits in terms of traffic flow and incident management. As the world-wide movement towards cooperative intelligent transport systems makes its way to Australia, we will see cars that can communicate with each other, cars that communicate to infrastructure and, in time, a host of new technologies that today we are only just conceiving.
In the next 20 years VicRoads will likely witness as much change as in the whole of the last century. It will be both exciting and challenging, bringing with it a range of benefits and obstacles.