Police question need for 100km/h speed limits for unsealed roads

Police have questioned whether 100km/h is an appropriate speed for unsealed country roads.
Police have questioned whether 100km/h is an appropriate speed for unsealed country roads.

Speed limits on unsealed country roads would not have to be dropped if motorists took some responsibility, says Bendigo’s top traffic cop.

Senior Sergeant Ian Brooks said discussions were under way between police and councils about the viability of reducing 100km/h speed limits by 20 or 30km/h for some of the region’s unsealed roads.

“The aim is we will be looking at roads which carry a great amount of traffic,” he said, adding the reaction from councils so far had been positive and supportive.

Police Minister Lisa Neville said this week the state government was considering a trial of 70km/h speed limits for unsealed roads, after Assistant Commissioner for road policing Doug Fryer questioned whether 100km/h limits were appropriate.

In a video released by Victoria Police, Assistant Commissioner Fryer said he was keen to have a community discussion – or even argument – about what limit was appropriate.

“Let’s get it out there and talk about what’s right,” he said. “This is around saving lives on Victorian roads so we need to do all we can.”

So far, 181 lives have been lost on Victoria roads this year, and three out of the four who are killed on country roads are country people.

Central Victoria Superintendent Darren Franks in July said road trauma was a big issue for the region and also questioned the current speed limits.

“I would ask the community, do we really need to do 100km/h on a gravel road?,” he said. 

“Probably not, especially a gravel road, which has big red gums right on the edge of it and no guard rail. That’s the type of conversation we’ve got to have with people and see if we can try to stop the deaths.”

Senior Sergeant Brooks said reducing road trauma wasn’t just a job for police or governments, and called on the public to get on board.

“Let’s take some responsibility ourselves,” he said.

“Why do we need to drive down these roads at 100km/h? Slow down and drive at 80km/h – it will only take an extra minute.”

Senior Sergeant Brooks said whenever police got a call for a crash on unsealed roads, they expected it would be bad, with big trees right up to the edges of roads, embankments and ditches.

“The community needs to come on board and give us a hand because without their support none of these things work,” he said.