A new approach to reduce the likelihood and severity of car crashes at rural intersections could soon be used on roads around Benalla.
Side Traffic Activated Rural Speeds (STARS) is being piloted in Victoria’s north east under a $1million plan to save lives on country roads.
The program is based on a similar initiative that operates in New Zealand, which has resulted in an 89 per cent reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes.
One of the highest risk areas on rural roads is intersections, particularly where smaller side roads intersect with main roads.
Three intersections at Wahring, Yalca and Barnawatha have been selected for the Victorian-first trial and are expected to be fully operational by Christmas.
Vehicles approaching the intersections will trigger an electronic speed limit sign on the main road, reducing the speed limit by 30km/h.
This reduced speed limit will be active for as long as there are vehicles waiting to enter or cross the main road.
Each of the three pilot intersections is unique and has been deliberately selected based on factors, such as crash statistics and traffic volumes to ensure the pilot is assessed under multiple conditions.
VicRoads safe system road infrastructure program director Bryan Sherritt said improving the safety of country roads was a priority.
‘‘People on country roads are being killed at almost four times the rate of people using city roads,’’ Mr Sherritt said.
‘‘This pilot will test a new approach to make our rural intersections safer.’’
Transport Accident Commission safe system road infrastructure program director Hafez Alavi said STARS technology could play a crucial role in reducing road trauma in regional Victoria.
‘‘The majority of people being killed and seriously injured on our roads are travelling in rural areas,’’ Mr Alavi said.
‘‘We are always looking for new ways to make country roads safer and this technology aims to do exactly that.’’
VicRoads will monitor driver compliance, crash occurrence and severity. If the pilot is deemed successful, STARS may be introduced at other locations.
The project is part of the Towards Zero vision, which aims to reduce the number of lives lost on our roads by 20 per cent to 200 or below and reduce serious injuries by 15 per cent.