Australia's road infrastructure - changes and upgrades for better driving

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On average, four people are killed and 90 are seriously injured each day on Australia's roadsi. The Australian Transport Council (ATC) is currently implementing the National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020, focusing on four key areas - safe roads, safe speeds, safe vehicles and safe peoplei.

The National Building Program comes into this as part of the safe road initiative. The program aims to deliver a national road network that can meet the contemporary needs of Australian driversii - the current program promises to deliver 217 completed major road projects by 2013-14. As of May 2012, 103 have been completed and another 81 are underwayii.

The National Building Program is working toward a safer and more reliable national road network for Australian commuters.

Priority projects

The Pacific Highway upgrade is currently Australia's largest and most complex road construction projectii. When completed - expected by the end of 2016 - this stretch of road will link two of the nation's biggest cities - Brisbane and Sydney - by dual carriageway highways. According to the most recent Pacific Highway upgrade monthly achievement report (published May 2012), 346km of four lane divided highway has been completed, 59km are under construction and a further 121km have received planning approval and are being prepared for constructioniii.

The Pacific Highway is an integral part of Australia's national freight network and has been a site of hazard for many driversiv. Essentially, this upgrade seeks to provide more reliable and safer travelling conditions as well as improved transport efficiencyv.

In the meantime, upgrades to the final section of the Hume Highway are set to be completed by mid-2013vi. Covering roads that lead from the Albury Wodonga Hume Freeway to the end of the Holbrook bypass, the construction of four-lane divided carriageway with a 110km/h speed limit will expect to see commuters saving fuel and time spent on the roadvi. The upgrade also promises reduced traffic noise for surrounding residents and businesses and improved pedestrian safety at various sections of the highwayvii.

Upgrades to the Pacific and Hume Highways have been planned so that eventually all four east coast capital cities- Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne - will be connectedviii.

The Gateway WA project is another national infrastructure priority, which aims to improve and secure access to the proposed new Perth Airportix. With freight task and passenger air travel expected to double between now and 2031, it is hoped that the Gateway WA project will increase the operational efficiency of vehicles in the areaix. The entire project is scheduled for completion by 2017ix.

Large State-funded projects, such as Victoria's East West Link upgradex and the Queensland government's Bruce Highway Upgrade Strategy (BHUS)xi have also been listed as priority or important projects on each state's 2011/12 project submissions to Infrastructure Australia.

For more information on current or planned major road projects happening in Australia, visit the National Infrastructure Construction Schedule website and click on the timeline link, where you can filter your search by respective industries and states.

The Black Spot Program seeks to locate dangerous sites on roads and take measures to reduce crashes and to make that section of road safer.

Building towards safer roads

In addition to providing further funds for road infrastructure upgrades, the 2012-2013 Budget has also allocated a sum of money to extend existing national road safety programs, such as the Black Spot Program - an initiative committed to reducing the risk of accidents occurring at dangerous road locationsxii.

The Black Spot Program provides funding for safety works such as roundabouts, crash barriers and street lights in crash hot spots. Black Spots have been determined at locations where serious crashes have already taken place or are likely to occurxiii. Each State and Territory receives a share of the total funding, based on population and crash dataxiii. State and Territory Governments, local councils, community groups and individuals can nominate a "Black Spot" (a road site that is at risk of crashes occurring), and these nominations will be considered eligible for funding by a panel of road experts, Government advisors and local representativesxiv.

Commitment to programs such as these will hopefully see Australia's roads becoming safer in years to come. However, this is a responsibility that should be taken up by all road users. Abiding by the road rules and knowing how to share the road with cyclists and pedestrians is an important part of ensuring safety for all road commuters. In addition, taking out car insurance is a way of ensuring that your investment is protected in the event of an accident, theft or damage to your car. Get a car insurance quote from Allianz today.

i Australian Government Department of Infrastructure and Transport, 2012, National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020,

ii Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, 2012, Nation building for Australia's future: vision and courage,

iii NSW Government Transport Roads & Maritime Services, 2012, Pacific Highway upgrade monthly achievement report, Australian Government National Building Program,, p.2

iv NSW Government, 2011, Pacific Highway Upgrade - Submission to Infrastructure Australia,

v NSW Government Transport Roads &Maritime Services, 2012, Pacific Highway Upgrade,

vi NSW Government Transport Roads & Maritime Services, 2012, Holbrook Bypass,, p.6

vii NSW Government Transport Roads & Maritime Services, 2012, Hume Highway duplication,

viii NSW Government, 2011, Pacific Highway Upgrade - Submission to Infrastructure Australia,, p.i

ix Building Roads, 2012, Gateway WA, Main Roads Western Australia,

x Premier of Victoria Ted Baillieu, 2011, Coalition Government announces priority infrastructure projects for Victoria, State Government Victoria,

xi Department of Local Government and Planning, 2011, Queensland Government's 2011 Submission to Infrastructure Australia, Queensland Government,

xii Department of Infrastructure and Transport, 2012, Black Spot Program, Australian Government,

xiii Budget 2012-13, Infrastructure and Transport, Australian Government,

xiv Department of Infrastructure and Transport, 2012, Black Spot Sites Eligibility, Australian Government,