Little support for overtaking ban

Drivers reported travel times between Busselton and Bunbury increased up to an hour on Easter Monday. Image supplied by Anita Campbell.

Drivers reported travel times between Busselton and Bunbury increased up to an hour on Easter Monday. Image supplied by Anita Campbell.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said it would be counter-intuitive for Main Roads to trial closing an overtaking lane on Bussell Highway during peak periods and the proposal would not be supported by her agency.

Ms Saffioti said she would advise Main Roads not to proceed with its proposal to close the overtaking lanes between Busselton and Capel on long weekends.

Ms Saffioti said several options were put forward to the South West Road Safety Group regarding improving congestion on Bussell Highway between Capel and Busselton.  

She said closing overtaking lanes was one of the options mentioned and that this proposal did not warrant further investigation.

“I do not believe this is a good idea - we build overtaking lanes to make our roads safer,” she said.

WA Police South West superintendent Mick Sutherland said he did not support an overtaking ban on the Bussell Highway, as suggested by another media outlet over the weekend.

Mr Sutherland said WA Police had no desire to see the trial started.

Main Roads confirmed they considered a trial to close a northbound overtaking lane at the end of long weekends between Busselton and Capel to reduce accidents and bottlenecks.

Main Roads WA spokesperson Dean Roberts said it was critical that they engaged with key stakeholders such as the Road Safety Commission and WA Police to gain their support.

Mr Roberts said there were three northbound overtaking lanes between Busselton and Capel and the idea was to close one at the end of a long weekend.

Mr Roberts said there was plenty of evidence to suggest people sped up to overtake other vehicles before the end of an overtaking lane which created risks and bottlenecks.

He said it would be critical to trial the overtaking ban and that the first opportunity to do this would be the next long weekend in June. 

“If the police thought it would be dangerous we would not do it,” he said.

While Mr Roberts could not confirm if an overtaking ban had been used anywhere else in the world, the Road Safety commissioner Kim Papalia said on 6PR that he wanted to see see the analytics behind the proposal.

Mr Papalia said overtaking lanes reduced risk and head-on crashes which is why they were used.

“[Head-on crashes] are the worst type of crashes,” he said.

Mr Papalia said 11 per cent of drivers continued to take risks on the roads and that double demerit points were used at peak periods to target these people.

“They think they are the best drivers on the road - it is difficult to change their behaviour – they are over represented in road crashes,” he said.

According to Mr Papalia, WA drivers who have lost eight or more demerit points were 30 times more likely to be involved in a crash.

Vasse MP Libby Mettam said 87 crashes had occurred between Capel and Busselton over the past five years up to December 2015.

“Main Roads priority along this stretch of road must be dualling Bussell highway, not blocking lanes,” she said.

“This would only increase the level of frustration amongst drivers on the road and I support the evidence which suggests overtaking lanes generally makes roads safer.”

​The stretch of Bussell Highway between Capel and Busselton was named the fifth riskiest in regional WA by the RAC.

The survey noted the stretch of road on Bussell Highway posed a risk to commuters due to narrow lanes and bridges and a lack of overtaking opportunities.