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Highway upgrades on safety agenda

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter

South Western Highway is one of four major routes highlighted in the State Government’s new nine-year plan to tackle road trauma.

The WA Regional Road Safety Strategy outlines a target of $100 million per year over nine years – $80 million from the Federal Government and $20 million from the State through the Road Trauma Trust Account.

More than 17,400km of regional roads have been flagged for upgrades in the strategy, including a stretch of the highway from Perth to Donnybrook.

Works would focus on providing sealed shoulders, installing audible edge-lining and installing metre-wide audible median or centre-lines on the regional road network.

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The announcement comes as a report by the Australian Automobile Association revealed WA had the highest road fatality rate of any State in the country.

Of the 159 fatalities in WA last year, 100 occurred on regional roads with most involving a single vehicle running off the road or drifting into the path of an oncoming vehicle, causing a head-on crash.

RAC general manager of corporate affairs Will Golsby said he was pleased the State Government was taking a proactive stance but funding from both State and Federal governments was urgently needed to help reduce the “unacceptable level of road trauma occurring every day”.

“Regional WA’s road fatality rate is six times higher than metropolitan Perth, with more than 60 per cent of road fatalities occurring on regional roads last year, despite only 20 per cent of the population living in regional communities,” Mr Golsby said.

Harvey shire president Tania Jackson said she would welcome further upgrades to South Western Highway. “This is an important route through our communities,”Cr Jackson said.

“We have seen upgrades to South Western Highway over time, but there is always more work to do.

“We support any work to improve that infrastructure.”

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti believed the $1.2 billion of Federal funds earmarked for the Perth Freight Link would be better spent on a targeted program to save lives on regional roads. “The State and Federal Government have previously worked together well on the issue of road safety and I would like to see us build on that success,” she said.

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