AAA Star Rates Roads for Safety
The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) today released Star Ratings for the AusLink national network of highways in NSW in a further bid to highlight the condition ofAustralia's roads.
This brings to a total of almost 23,000km of national highway aroundAustraliathat has been assessed and star rated under the Australian Road Assessment Program.
The star ratings are based on design features of a road, such as whether it is divided or not, the proximity of trees and poles to the side of the road, lane and shoulder width and horizontal alignment (ie: bends).
AAA Research Manager, Greg Smith, launched the latest Star Ratings, in the AusRAP report, Safer Roads Save Lives — Star Ratings for the AusLink National Network in NSW.
"Five people die every day on Australian roads and often these tragedies could have been avoided if the roads were better designed," Mr Smith said.
Star ratings form part of AAA’s Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP) which shows that many national highways in NSW are likely to contribute to casualty crashes and death.
The star ratings classify roads from 1 star (least safe) to 5 stars (safest). In total, more than 4,600km of the NSW network was rated, with 8% of roads rating just 2 stars and 68% rating 3 star — the remainder of the network (24%) was rated an acceptable 4 stars.
The NSW network rated worse than the rest ofAustralia, where 2% is rated 2 star, 51% is 3 star and 47% is rated 4 stars.
Mr Smith said 2 and 3-star ratings were not good enough for national highways.
“These highways link capital cities and major freight terminals and together carry millions of people every day for work, business or pleasure and move large volumes of freight — they are the lifeblood ofAustralia’s transport system. A 3-star rating is simply sub-standard,” he said.
"All roads are not equal — some are safer than others. These AusRAP star ratings show us where the most dangerous — and the safest — sections are on our national network of highways.”
One of the more risky sections of road identified in the study was on thePacific Highway northof Woolgoolga, which received a 2-star rating.
“This section of road is undivided — meaning head-on crashes are possible; has severe roadside conditions — if a vehicle runs off the road, it is likely to hit a tree or pole; and it has a large number of intersections — where brutal side impact crashes are a risk,” Mr Smith said.
“Increased road investment can help reduce this risk.
“A good example of governments working together and investing to improve safety is the Brunswick Heads to Yelgun section of thePacific Highway, where major work was completed in July 2007. The Federal and NSW Governments split the $256 million price tag for this project.
“Before the upgrade, it rated just 2 stars. Today, it rates 4 stars — it is now divided, has wide lanes, overpass and underpass intersections and has much improved roadside conditions.
“But there’s still a lot of work to be done to extend freeway sections, bring some of our older freeway sections up to modern safety standards and build better safety features into those two-lane highways where a freeway-standard is not feasible.
“Sober, responsible drivers obeying the speed limit and wearing seat belts frequently die onAustralia’s roads because of a momentary lapse in concentration. Safe roads minimise the chance of a crash in these circumstances and if one does occur, they minimise the severity of the crash.”
The AusRAP star ratings were developed by AAA and its member motoring clubs, in consultation with State and Territory road and traffic agencies and research organisation ARRB. AusRAP makes use of data provided by the agencies.
The NSW RTA provided information and data to assist the AusRAP program develop the NSW star ratings. AusRAP has also benefitted from a grant from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).
AusRAP reports and colour-coded maps showing the Star Ratings for the AusLink national network are available at www.ausrap.org.