Road safety scrutinised on EP

Road safety scrutinised on EP

News
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Concerns about extra truck movements on Eyre Peninsula roads have prompted local authorities and committees to focus on improving road safety in the region.

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UPGRADE NEEDED: Kyancutta farmer Darren O'Brien said improvements to Eyre Peninsula roads were vital to ensure drivers remained safe following the movement of grain transport from rail to road.

UPGRADE NEEDED: Kyancutta farmer Darren O'Brien said improvements to Eyre Peninsula roads were vital to ensure drivers remained safe following the movement of grain transport from rail to road.

Concerns about extra truck movements on Eyre Peninsula roads have prompted local authorities and committees to focus on improving road safety in the region.

The potential increase in truck numbers follows the recent transition by SA grain handler Viterra from rail to road transport on the EP.

In response, SA Police have developed Operation Eyre Safe, an initiative launched last month with education and enforcement elements aiming to help drivers in the region remain safe.

Eyre Western Service Area officer-in-charge Paul Bahr said keeping roads safe required effort from all drivers.

"This isn't just about trucks, it's about the interaction between trucks and other road users where you tend to get the problems," he said.

We'll be ramping up the enforcement as the operation goes on. - PAUL BAHR

Mr Bahr said more forums would be held in the coming months, leading into the harvest season, delivering a key message to road users to drive to the conditions.

"It would be great to see some overtaking lanes, and widening work on the shoulders, but if people drive to the conditions, no matter what the conditions are, they should be safe," he said.

Vehicle inspections formed a large part of the enforcement element of the program, according to Mr Bahr.

During a licensing and defect operation on the outskirts of Port Lincoln earlier this month, police stopped 57 drivers in slightly more than an hour, and seven vehicles were issued with defect notices.

"We'll be ramping up the enforcement as the operation goes on," he said.

Mr Bahr also urged road users to contact SAPOL to report drivers behaving in a concerning manner.

While Mr Bahr said it was vital to ensure truck drivers weren't "pushing themselves beyond what they should be doing", Quinn Transport managing director Rodney Quinn said drivers had not completed any weekend or night work since the cessation of the rail network.

But Mr Quinn did acknowledge that this year's harvest would be a more accurate indicator of how trucking requirements would be impacted following the rail closure.

So far, everything is working smoothly. - RODNEY QUINN

"There will be extended hours for a short period of time, but so far, everything is working smoothly," he said.

Lower Eyre Road Safety Committee chairman Laurie Collins said careful driving meant an increase in the number of heavy vehicles was not a cause for concern.

"There is no need for us to panic, we just need to drive to the conditions of the road and also the weather," he said.

Road safety was featured in this year's federal and state budgets, which respectively committed $25.6 million and $32m to the improvement of EP roads.

Mr Collins said the funds were not sufficient to fix all problems, but would be beneficial to areas that needed urgent attention.

RELATED READING: End of an era for EP rail network

Kyancutta farmer Darren O'Brien agreed that EP roads required attention, saying the Tod Highway in particular needed to be widened.

"The government have made a token effort on some of the corners that were really dangerous, but the general run-of-the-mill (sections of road) isn't good enough," he said.

While Mr O'Brien believed the rail closure would place extra pressure on truck drivers, he did not anticipate a noticeable increase in truck numbers in his area.

"There hasn't been much rail transport north of Cummins for the past six or eight months or even since last harvest, it's been mainly trucks, so we've got a fair idea what the road is going to be like," he said.

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