Speed trials along the Monash Freeway have been hailed by the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) as having productivity gains for freight operators and being able to promote safety on the road.
Announced by the roads and ports minister Luke Donnellan, the Monash Speed Trial will involve trucks travelling at 90km/hour along a 10 kilometre section of the Monash Freeway between Huntingdale and Jacksons Roads.
The pilot program will run for 18 months and a second trial phase will ban trucks from the right hand lane alongside the 90km/hour speed limit. The trial will begin early next month.
The government has said reducing truck speed will put greater distance between cars and trucks and allow motorists to safely move around trucks, reducing the likelihood of rear end and side swipe crashes.
Donnellan announced the trial would focus on monitoring the effectiveness of reducing the speed limit for trucks to improve road safety and minimise the frequency of crashes.
The minister announced the speed trial would be launched in conjunction with the 6 month Dynamic Speed Trial program, allowing motorists to increase their speed from 80km/hour to 100km/hour on a part of the Monash Freeway between High Street in Ashburton and Glenferrie Road in Toorak when it is safe to do so.
Once the trials are over, the results will be independently examined and influence the decisions made in the future around vehicle speed.
Minister Donnellan explained recently,
“Providing safer speeds that are right for the road will mean people can get to where they need to be as safely and efficiently as possible – without impacting on the productivity of our freight industry,”
“Around 80 per cent of all crashes on the Monash are either rear end crashes or side swipe crashes – so we’re looking at innovative ways to make Victorian roads safer.”
“Reducing the speed of trucks on the Monash will only increase their travel time by one minute, but make it safer and boost the reliability of the freeway.”
VTA CEO Peter Anderson highlighted that freight operators are aware of the changes and how it will affect them.
He went on to say that operators must recognise that speed reductions are based on telemetry and data from VicRoads. This data indicates that heavy vehicles travelling at and above 100km/hour are more likely to be involved in collisions on the Monash Freeway than other similarly sized roads in Victoria. He explained:
“We know congestion-inducing bottlenecks are partially a by-product of trucks and other vehicles travelling at speed and changing lanes.
“Heavy vehicles operating this way exacerbate the problem because it takes them longer to brake and accelerate due to their size and mass.
“The VTA believes slowing heavy vehicles to 90 km/h on this stretch of the Monash will help traffic flow by reducing the need for regular braking and acceleration, and provide a greater distance between cars and trucks, should there be a need for sudden and unexpected braking.”
In addition to productivity gains, the speed reductions are also expected to improve safety for operators.
Operators can look forward to “more free-flowing traffic and less erratic driving”, which will help get road users where they’re going quicker.
It will also mean less fuel is used.