By Derek Schlennstedt
In response to the most recent fatal crash on Father’s Day along Healesville-Kooweerup Road, Hillcrest CFA and local police have organised a meeting this week with VicRoads and TAC.
In the past year, there have been three fatalities each within 100 metres of the last between Dalry and Symes roads.
In April The Mail reported on a double fatality only a few metres from the one on Father’s Day.
Hillcrest CFA captain Fiona Burns said that they regularly attended run-offs near the crash site, and that although there was no one factor that led to the crashes, she added that road resurfacing was likely to reduce the probability of accidents.
According to VicRoads, 3300 vehicles a day use the road, which was resurfaced in 2013, with minor patching work carried out in March 2017.
“There’s a whole heap of things that need to be done on that road,” Fiona said.
“Road surface, camber of the road, condition of the road, the potholes, the surface itself … there is no quick fix, but we need to look at short-term and long-term solutions.”
“It’s a high-use road, a lot of traffic on there, everything from motorbikes to truck and B-doubles … it’s an integral road from Healesville to Woori Yallock.”
Following the April fatality, VicRoads and police investigated the crash and applied a number of improvements to the road, but VicRoads did not deem it necessary to undertake resurface works.
These April improvements included the installation of guideposts approaching and along the notorious bend, additional warning signs and trimming which obscured signs.
The existing 80km/h speed limit signs were also replaced with an advisory 55km/h speed limit on the southbound approach.
But the road pavement condition wasn’t deemed a contributing factor to the April fatality, and so no work on the road was undertaken.
VicRoads regional director for the Metro South East area Aidan McGann said VicRoads would be working with police to determine the cause of the most recent crash.
“I am deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life on Father’s Day, and my heart goes out to those involved, their family and friends,” Mr McGann said.
“Following every death on our roads, we inspect the site and work with Victoria Police through their investigation.”
Detective Sergeant Darren Williams from the Major Collision Unit said they raised concerns in conjunction with Yarra Ranges highway patrol the last time and were most likely do so again.
“You only have to go out there and see the amount of run-offs into the grass verges to see that this area is a concern and should be addressed as soon as possible,” Det Sgt Darren Williams said.
“There are tight curves which you have to be aware; if you are not aware of how sharp that curve is, you can overreact.”
“We raised concerns last time in concert with Yarra Ranges Highways Patrol,” Det Sgt Williams said.
Fiona said that Hillcrest CFA would be actively involved in getting VicRoads to improve the dangerous section of road into the future and that at their meeting would be presenting 20 years of data about the fatal crashes that occur along the stretch of road.
“We take every incident seriously there,” she said.
“The brigade will petition very actively across all interested emergency services and partners to find a resolution.”