27 December 2017

Community rallies for urgent road safety action on Great Ocean Rd tourist routes

Sarah Henderson MP
Federal Member for Corangamite

Richard Riordan MP
Member for Polwarth

The Federal Member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson and Member for Polwarth Richard Riordan will next Sunday convene a community rally calling on the Victorian Government to take urgent road safety action on tourist roads on and around the Great Ocean Road.

The rally will be held on Sunday 31 December at 11.00am at 965 Birregurra Forrest Rd Murroon, near the horror intersection where two serious accidents have occurred in a matter of days, resulting in several people being seriously injured and one person killed.

This road is a popular tourist route from Geelong and Melbourne to Apollo Bay and beyond on the Great Ocean Road.

“I have been calling on the state government to take urgent action on international driver safety for more than two years. There have been a number of fatalities involving tourists visiting the Great Ocean Road but the government’s response has been woeful,” Ms Henderson said.

Victorian Roads Minister Luke Donnellan has refused to put together a comprehensive road safety plan. Lives are at stake every day yet he continues to put his head in the sand. (See http://sarahhenderson.com.au/2017/04/14/victorian-government-must-urgently-address-international-driver-safety/)

“Hire car companies must be forced to provide mandatory information such on “drive on left” stickers to international visitors, many of whom arrive here with virtually no driving experience. Drivers are able to obtain an international driver’s licence with negligible driving experience – these tourists become a moving timebomb. The use of international driver licences to travel to and along the Great Ocean Road must also be urgently reviewed,” Ms Henderson said.

Mr Riordan said: “Repeated warnings from CFA volunteers, residents and local road users have sadly fallen on deaf ears, and many dire warnings have sadly proven correct.”

“We are only four days into our holiday season, and we have seen the road toll rise and serious injury inflicted on drivers across the Otway tourism area. VicRoads needs to act immediately to change speed limits at some of Polwarth’s most dangerous intersections, as it has already done on the Cape Otway Road, in order to help lessen the impact of some of these terrible road crashes,” Mr Riordan said.

“I am also calling on the Victorian Roads Minister to release figures on crashes in our region including the number caused by people not holding a Victorian drivers licence. There is a growing concern among local residents and volunteer first responders that many of the avoidable accidents occurring have been caused by people who are not suitably qualified to drive on Australian country roads.

“It is a great concern that anecdotally we are allowing people to drive the Great Ocean Road and Otways without any verifiable driving experience. There are many international obligations around reciprocal driving rights, however Victorian lives are our first priority. If, as locals suspect, there is a growing trend in international driver accidents, then the government must work with hire car companies and the tourism industry to do much more,” Mr Riordan said.

27 December 2017

Photo credit – Alison Wynd, Geelong Advertiser