Keeping Our Kids Safe Around Schools | Constituency Question

Ms VAGHELA (Western Metropolitan) (12:49): My constituency question is directed to the Minister for Public Transport and Minister for Roads and Road Safety, the Honourable Ben Carroll. My question relates to the minister’s portfolio responsibilities of roads and road safety. The latest ‘keeping our kids safe around schools’ program launched by the Andrews Labor government is a significant leap in safeguarding our kids. This program is targeting intersections with high pedestrian traffic or near a train station and is placed under a $340 million investment program in Victorian roads. It will improve the traffic flow during busy school drop-off and pick-up times. My question to the minister is: can the minister update me on how keeping our kids safe around schools benefits the residents of the Western Metropolitan Region on the whole? These dynamic pedestrian crossings and upgraded electronic speed signs with a funding of $19.5 million support the Victorian Road Safety Strategy 2021–2030, protecting vulnerable road users. This can curtail road fatalities to a minimum by the end of 2050 and at least reduce road deaths by 50 per cent by 2030.

Reply:

The installation of dynamic pedestrian crossings is part of VicRoads $340 million investment in building better roads. A big part of this program is to uplift our technology assets across the road network and dynamic pedestrian sensors are one area we have identified for improvement. These new sensors will improve safety for a range of pedestrians and benefit traffic flow for other road users at busy crossings. We’re trying to enable a fairer balance between pedestrians and vehicle demand across some of Melbourne’s busiest traffic spots.

These dynamic pedestrian crossings will be installed at 15 locations within the Western Metropolitan Region, focused on our west zone, which incorporates Hobsons Bay and Wyndham Local Government Areas.

Dynamic pedestrian crossings use high-definition cameras, adapted for privacy reasons so they do not identify individuals. These cameras measure the pedestrian occupancy or area that the pedestrians occupy when pedestrians are waiting at a signalised crossing in real time. The locations selected by our VicRoads traffic signal operations team were based on analysis of routes and signalised intersections. Priority was not only given to schools but a number of locations where there are large numbers of pedestrians such as train stations, shopping trips and for more vulnerable pedestrians near aged care centres. 

Dynamic pedestrian crossings provide longer crossing times when there is a large group crossing which improves safety.  These detectors can also reduce the delay for pedestrians by allowing the pedestrian movement to happen more frequently when a large group of pedestrians is detected. This reduces the risk of pedestrians spilling out on to the roadway if there is insufficient area for pedestrians. 

Dynamic pedestrian crossing times are based on the number of pedestrians at the crossing in real-time. This ensures that longer crossing times are not triggered when a small number of pedestrians are waiting. This provides benefits for road users across areas like the Western Metropolitan Region at pedestrian crossings outside schools which were previously programmed to cater for large groups at school pick up and drop off times, but delayed drivers unnecessarily during school holidays and curriculum days. 

These dynamic pedestrian crossings will benefit a range of pedestrians and road users as they continue to strike a balance between pedestrian safety and vehicle demand within the Western Metropolitan Region.

Pedestrians are completely exposed to the full force of a crash, making them some of the most vulnerable road users. In 2015, an average of 11% of deaths and serious injuries were from crashes involving pedestrians. That’s why the Victorian and Australian government have invested $19.5 m into road safety infrastructure across the state to slow traffic and reduce the risk to pedestrians, particularly school children. 

Thirteen locations in North West Melbourne, including 9 school locations, have been selected for pedestrian safety upgrades under the program which is treating 55 sites statewide.  Installation of electronic speed limit signs ahead of speed limit zones and other pedestrian treatments improve driver compliance, reminding them to adhere to the speed limit as they approach high pedestrian activity areas. This makes the roads safer for shoppers, pedestrians and school children traveling to and from school and helps to reduce road trauma and make roads safer for all community members.