By Ellen Morgan
Published: Wednesday, September 8, 2021
The increasing popularity of the Fleurieu Peninsula among day-trippers, weekend drivers and holiday makers has highlighted the need for road safety improvements across the region.
With front and rear-end crashes more prominent in this region compared to others in the state, it’s more important than ever to plan for future improvements for the safety of all road users.
While many sections have received much-needed upgrades in recent years, RAA’s recent Fleurieu Peninsula and McLaren Vale Regional Road Assessment shows work is still needed to improve the safety and efficiency of the network.
Several key findings and recommendations are detailed in the assessment report, all of which have safety, accessibility and sustainability front of mind.
RAA Senior Manager of Safety and Infrastructure Charles Mountain says the assessment has come at a crucial time for the region.
“Since COVID hit last year, there have been more cars, caravans and camper trailers visiting the Fleurieu Peninsula due to a local tourism boom,” Mr Mountain says.
“The Fleurieu Peninsula might be small in terms of land area, compared to other South Australian regions, but the road network is substantial and sees high volumes of visitors and locals.”
Fleurieu road toll
People killed or seriously injured on Fleurieu Peninsula roads in 2020.
RAA undertook the road assessment earlier this year, after a survey of residents in the region revealed several safety concerns.
“This was our first time completing a full regional assessment of the Fleurieu Peninsula,” Mr Mountain continues.
“We’ve covered smaller sections in the past, but it was important for us to look at the whole network and how it functions.
“It’s part of our mission to reach every region in the state – so far we’ve already assessed the Riverland, Limestone Coast, Barossa Valley, Yorke Peninsula, Clare Valley and Adelaide Hills.”
The Fleurieu Peninsula and McLaren Vale have a devastating crash history. There have been 25 lives lost on roads in the region between 2016 and 2020, and a further 824 injuries (serious and minor) as a result of crashes along the regional routes.
Recently there have also been several crashes on Main Rd in McLaren Vale, with two people tragically losing their lives in separate crashes earlier this year. To improve safety along the busy tourism route, RAA recommends upgrading intersections in the area, including constructing roundabouts at several high-risk intersections on Main Rd.
“While many locals may be aware of where to give way, with the wine region now more popular with visitors, it’s clear we need to improve the current infrastructure,” Mr Mountain says.
“One of the major recommendations in the report is the improvement of four-way intersections in McLaren Vale.”
RAA also suggests several simple improvements for other intersections, including increased signage, line marking and potentially prohibiting right-hand turns at some locations.
RAA welcomes recent improvements to five four-way intersections in the McLaren Vale region, where the City of Onkaparinga Council in partnership with the Department for Infrastructure and Transport has installed enhanced signage. An example of this is at the intersection with Aldinga Road and Almond Grove Road in Whites Valley.
The report recommends a proactive and risk-based approach to reducing roadside hazards by installing barriers for increased safety.
“Instead of just treating sites where the crash previously occurred, it’s important to look at the corridor as a whole,” Mr Mountain says.
“It’s a more proactive approach to reducing the likelihood of future crashes with roadside hazards.
A collision with a barrier is far less dangerous than with a large tree.”
Freight movement in the region also needs to be improved, with not only efficiency on RAA’s agenda but also the safety of fellow road users.
RAA would like to see a feasibility study of the proposed South Coast Freight Corridor undertaken to investigate the benefit to all road users when it comes to safety, efficiency and sustainability for the region’s natural environment and its existing road network.
Other recommendations include new overtaking lanes on key corridors, shoulder sealing, region-wide road surface improvements and upgrades to Victor Harbor Rd for which RAA has written a separate report.
For the first time, the report also includes a specific focus on tourism in the region, and how the road network and township streetscapes affect tourists travelling through, and stopping, in the Fleurieu Peninsula.
“In a first for our regional assessments, we looked at opportunities where tourism and visitor experiences can be improved in town centres throughout the region,” Mr Mountain says.
“The team looked at Willunga’s recent streetscape development as an example of an improvement which largely benefited the community and its tourism visitation.”
Improved parking and pedestrian pathways are among some of the suggested tourism-focused recommendations.
Further developments are also needed along the Encounter Bikeway, and the Flat to Vale trail – projects that’ll improve mobility for locals and tourists alike.
“The world is changing, and so too is our state, so we need to ensure our assessments and recommendations improve safety and mobility for our members and the community, as well as increasing our ever-growing tourism industry.”
If you have any questions about the report, or you’d like to chat more to our team, representatives from RAA’s Safety and Infrastructure team will be at RAA’s Victor Harbor shop on 10 September from 10am to 2pm. Pop in − they’d love to address your queries or concerns.