Qbn-Palerang council’s safe systems speed project ‘a winner’

An innovative local roads safety program has put the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (QPRC) in contention for the 2020 National Award for Local Government.

QPRC, in NSW’s Southern Tablelands, won the 2020 Excellence in Road Safety Award for its embrace of a data-led approach to improving driver behaviour.

With speed involved in almost 31 percent of casualty crashes, the council implemented its Safe Systems Speed Project for Local Roads, central to which is determining the “85th percentile speed” – the speed at or below which 85 percent of all vehicles are observed to travel under free-flowing conditions past a monitored point.

QPRC is using mobile speed trailers to provide motorists with a direct indication of their vehicles’ speed approaching road works and other speed restricted areas, providing direct behavioural feedback, and enabling them to modify their behaviour.

When vehicles deviate from a standard speed, either faster or slower, the potential for accidents increases, whether caused by a slow car in a rear-end collision or a fast car completing lane changes to manoeuvre through slower traffic.

By setting the speed limit to the 85th percentile speed greater uniformity is achieved and safety is increased.

QPRC’s use of mobile speed trailers at 51 sites has reduced excess speeding and delivered measurable improvements in driver behaviour.  

The project has also helped reshape conversations among key groups and local stakeholders and fostered the sharing of data, all of which informs the best use of limited council resources.

The panel which judged the award said QPRC’s “low cost, improved practice and sustainable model for the evidence-based proactive risk treatment for speeding … provides a replicable model for other councils … [and] is a winner”.

The National Awards for Local Government promote the significant role of local government in delivering targeted quality services to urban and regional communities – and are sponsored by the Federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

The overall winner will be announced at ALGA’s Special Local Roads and Transport Congress in Wagga Wagga NSW on 16-17 November – along with the Minister’s Award.