A Victorian state politician has called for an inquiry into speed limits in the state, calling on limits on the Hume Highway to be lifted to 130km/h in some places.
Liberal MP for Benambra, Bill Tilley, says it is time for an inquiry into raising speed limits on certain highways in Victoria, in particular a shift from 110km/h to 130km/h on the Hume Highway, and 100km/h to 110km/h on the Princes Highway between Geelong and Melbourne.
“What I am doing is challenging our statutory bodies, our road-safety experts, and everybody, to challenge themselves,” Mr Tilley told Wheels.
“We see in parts of western society and Europe that you can travel safely at 130km/h during good conditions and down to 110km/h in wet conditions. And certainly their roads aren’t necessarily any better than what we have got here – particularly the Hume highway I am advocating.
“We have some differences with wildlife and that sort of thing, but these are challenges we can minimise.”
Mr Tilley spent 12 years as an active member of the Victorian Police, three of which were with the Highway Patrol on the Hume Highway.
The Liberal MP says it is time there was an inquiry into speed limits in the state, and says there are larger contributing factors to road trauma.
“For decades now we have simply been sticking to the default position and saying ‘speed kills’. Now I know as a member of the police, and working for a short time with the highway patrol, it is not always just speed that is the major contributing factor to fatalities and injury, both serious and minor,” he added.
“I have firsthand experience in fatalities, and they are tragic, they always will be, but that is not to say we shouldn’t challenge ourselves, particularly when road safety agencies are demanding and wanting taxpayers money to put in good infrastructure.”
The member for Benambra says with cars being safer than ever, now is the time to have a serious discussion about speed on major highways.
“We have a whole lot of bureaucrats that spend a lot of time overseas going to conferences and those sorts of things, and having conversations about road safety.
“Well, it is about time that you don’t just continue to crawl under a rock, and challenge ourselves to see if we can come up with a good public policy, using the good resources of the taxpayer that can both economically and safely ensure that our motoring public can travel safely between point A and point B.
“I know no inquiry has ever been done specifically on speed. I know there is plenty of research, and there is plenty more research that needs to be done, and that the old adage that speed kills needs to be challenged.”
It’s not just speed-limits Tilley wants looked at, pushing for our entire culture around driving on highways to be looked at, including driver training and law enforcement.
“We are in a nanny state where the emphasis is you set your cruise control below the posted speed limit on these roads to avoid being intercepted by hard working police men and women under a policy where you are fined for travelling just a couple of km/h over the speed limit,” he added.
“It is quite often that it is not deliberate, perhaps it is just opportunistic or by accident, but certainly a couple of kilometres over the speed limit is not going to see our road toll significantly increase.”
Tilley stresses he is not being reckless with his recommendation, and is attempting to push a common sense approach, admitting that in some instances an inquiry might recommend lowering speed limits in certain sections.
“I take road safety very seriously,” he said. “I was a serving member of the Victorian Police, and I was on the Hume Highway Patrol, spending many, many hours out there. But the thing is we have to strive to continue to do better.
“I hate, hate, seeing trauma on our roads, but in this day and age, with improvements in engineering and what not, we deserve better.”
The MP is putting the call out for people to speak up and put pressure on the government, the police force, and road safety bodies to consider starting a proper discussion on the topic.
“I can’t do this on my own, I am a member of the Liberal party, and it is not the Liberal or Coalition position in Victoria [to raise speed limits],” he admits.
“But certainly I am not a fence-sitter, and I know I can’t do this on my own. It needs the community and public and road safety experts to speak up. It requires everyone to not sit silently on their hands, but actually get up and say something and advocate for an inquiry to take place.”
John Lambert is one road safety expert who backs Tilley’s stance, saying we should be allowing drivers to drive at speeds they deem appropriate for the conditions.
“The majority of drivers are very safe and responsible,” he told Wheels.
“80-percent of responsible drivers complete 99.999-percent of trips without a crash, or alternately have a crash rate of one in 72,000 trips (or one crash per 825,000 km travelled). And for the 30-percent of very responsible drivers, they complete 99.9994-percent of trips without a crash, or alternately have a crash rate of one in 180,000 trips (or one crash per 2,000,000 km).”
Lambert strongly opposed the strict speed enforcement stance adopted by Victoria Police.
Despite all this, Tilley’s calls may have already fallen on deaf ears. Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said yesterday that the Liberal state government has no plans to raise the speed limit on the Hume Highway to 130km/h.
“I am always happy to have a debate and a discussion about all sorts of issues, I tend to take my advice though on road safety matters from Victoria Police, from places like the Monash University Accident Research Centre, places like the TAC,” he said.
“Many people have views and opinions, that fine, but we have no plans to change our speed limit to 130km/h.”