Motorists slowed by new road safety action

Huon Valley Council in the south of Tasmania is trialling a range of measures to reduce the speed of vehicles travelling through its township of Franklin. The trial is part of a new road safety strategy for Franklin, designed by the Road Safety South partnership between Council, the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources (DIER), Kingborough Council and Hobart City Council.

“Franklin has a wider town frontage than the other towns in the Huon Valley so there isn’t the same perception of speed as you pass through,” said Huon Valley Mayor, Councillor Robert Armstrong. “Traffic surveys conducted by DIER show that 85 per cent of motorists travelling through the town do not travel at the posted 60 kilometre per hour speed limit. The average speed was actually 68 kilometres per hour.

“The professional advice presented to Council was that reducing the speed to 50 would not have much of an impact on speed reduction.

“DIER recommended putting in place a strategy that reduces the speed of motorists by 10 kilometres per hour, bringing it back to 60.”

Approved by Council in early March, the trial will involve the following measures to gauge their impact on speeds:

• the installation of kerb extensions to provide a narrowing effect on the highway, thereby changing
driver perception

• relocation of speed limit signs to more prominent positions.

Large electronic signs have already been placed at both the northern and southern entrances to the town.

Councillor Armstrong said these variable message display boards and speed indicator signs are having the desired effect.

“The signs have now been in place for about a month and we believe they are having some effect on driver’s actions in relation to speed,” he said.

The electronic message sign sits atop a bright yellow trailer and flashes alternate messages – ‘Slow Down’ and ‘60 km/h Zone’ – at passing southbound traffic.

The northbound sign monitors approaching vehicle speeds and displays them for the drivers, and others, to see.

“The signs are certainly hard to miss, so drivers can’t say they didn’t see them,” Councillor Armstrong said.

DIER will again undertake traffic studies after the trial period to determine the strategy’s effectiveness.

The trial will continue for an indefinite period.

For further information contact Council’s Manager Infrastructure Services, Sue Riley, on (03) 6264 0328.