14 April 2017

Victorian Government must urgently address international driver safety

Since 2015, I have written to Victorian Roads Minister, Luke Donnellan, on a number of occasions asking him to urgently address international driver safety on the Great Ocean Road.

On 26 March 2016, I wrote to the Minister stating:

“Minister this is a very serious issue. There have been many accidents and some fatalities. After community meetings in Lorne, Wye River, Forrest and Apollo Bay, I cannot stress how important it is that the Victorian Government take comprehensive action to deal with the conduct of international drivers on the Great Ocean Road – arrows on roads, better signage including in Chinese, hire car signage, better education.”

The Minister replied on 13 April 2016, stating that:

“…the current focus is to remind drivers to use the correct side of the road when travelling. In addition to signs and line-marking, VicRoads is also investigating other initiatives such as consulting with vehicle hire companies to encourage them to participate in distributing information to their international customers”

Despite these so called investigations, we have seen no comprehensive plan from the state government to improve international driver safety.

After holding my Great Ocean Road summit in Lorne and Apollo Bay, many local residents raised concerns about this issue including a number of “near misses”.  One of the biggest issues is the failure of international tourists to drive on the left hand side of the road.

Dangerous parking, stopping in the middle of the Great Ocean Road and a failure to use slow turn out lanes are also major issues.  For instance, at Eastern View over the Chinese New Year, Great Ocean Road Tourism Board chair Wayne Kaylor-Thompson and I witnessed many cars and buses being parked illegally and very dangerously along the Great Ocean Road.

As part of our government’s second $50m upgrade of the Great Ocean Road, it’s vital we see greater investment in initiatives which will improve both driver and pedestrian safety.

The Labor state government needs to take this issue extremely seriously.  The Great Ocean Road may be a magnificent tourist destination but it’s also a challenging road on which to drive.

It is critical that the government takes comprehensive action to ensure international drivers use the Great Ocean Road safely and understand the road rules.

This includes imposing on car and bus hire companies tougher rules to ensure all drivers travelling the Great Ocean Road are properly educated and operate within the law.

13 April 2017