Millions of dollars of Victorian riders’ “safety levy” fees are unspent on vital road infrastructure, prompting a riders’ group to call for a 50% reduction of the annual $70 fee.
A Freedom of Information application to the Traffic Accident Commission by the Independent Riders’ Group shows that $18.5 million was unspent at the end of the 2014/15 financial year.
That amounts to nearly three years of safety levy funds and does not include about $13.2m collected in the past two financial years.
IRG motorcycle road safety advocate and author Heather Ellis says it shows that the $70 annual levy collected from Victorian motorcyclists needs to be “greatly reduced by 50% or more”.
“While this money sits in the TAC coffers, the Victorian State Government is most likely eyeing it off for internal revenue,” she says.
“Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned what they’re doing with the interest on ‘our’ money.”
Infrastructure projects approved
However, Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan says the $18.5 million is accounted for in recent infrastructure project approvals. (See below for the full list of approved and completed projects.)
That still does not account for the $13.2m collected in the past two years.
“Safety is our top priority and the evidence shows that motorcyclists are over-represented in serious and fatal crashes,” the Minister says.
“That’s why we’re continuing to identify the routes riders use and work to make them safer through projects funded under the Motorcycle Safety Levy.
“Recent approvals include infrastructure improvements such as sealing side roads/driveways to minimise gravel entering the roadway, addition of rubrail to guardrail to prevent under running, improved delineation, and surface improvements.”
The safety levy was introduced in 2002 and, up to June 2015, had collected $66.6 million in fees to be spent on road safety projects, education and infrastructure.
Heather admits that millions collected by levy has paid for many safety projects.
“Since 2002, the levy has improved motorcycle safety on a number of fronts, particularly the GLS (Graduated Licensing System), as well as the surface, and therefore safety, of many popular motorcycling roads in Victoria. Roads, by the way, that are often popular with logging trucks,” Heather says.
“But it is appalling that so millions remain unspent when so many of these roads continue to be in desperate need of repair.
“One such example is the Elthan-Yarra Glen Road near Melbourne, which suffers from many patches of uneven surface.
“Recently, a significant amount of wire rope barriers were installed on this popular motorcycling road despite the government recognising that wire rope barriers should not be installed on such roads.
“The combination of wire rope barriers, a winding road, uneven road surface, kangaroos, and motorcyclists is an accident waiting to happen.
“This unspent $18.5 million could have greatly improved the safety of this and many other roads, and in doing so, avoid accidents and potentially save lives.”
Fellow IRG member Dale Maggs (pictured top of page) says that for some time he has been taking photos of road damage and asking VicRoads for a better level of maintenance under their duty-of-care policy.
The Minister points out that information about the allocation of millions in safety levy fees is placed on a VicRoads website when projects are completed.
“We’ve asked VicRoads to update the webpage when new projects are approved,” he says.
The approved projects listed below will be published shortly, the Minister says.
“The Motorcycle Safety Levy program and projects are discussed at the Motorcycle Expert Advisory Panel meetings.
“VicRoads will continue to place project information on the website page for motorcycle safety,” he says.
Recent infrastructure project approvals funded by the safety levy total $18.5 million and include:
- Great Alpine Road in East Gippsland, a 145km route safety improvement treatment proposal valued at $3,690,000 – completed
- Licola Road between Licola and Heyfield in East Gippsland, a long route proposal valued at $1,078,000 – completed
- Omeo Highway in East Gippsland, a long route proposal valued at $632,000 – completed
- Lancefield-Woodend Road in Macedon Ranges Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $580,000
- Mt Macedon-Hanging Rock Road in Macedon Ranges Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $122,000
- Mt Macedon Road in Macedon Ranges Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $260,000
- Deans Marsh-Lorne Road in Surf Coast Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $870,000
- Daylesford-Trentham Road in Hepburn Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $590,000
- Myrniong-Trentham Road in Hepburn Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $960,000
- Mansfield-Whitfield Road in Mansfield Shire & Wangaratta Rural City, long route treatment proposal valued at $1,972,000
- Healesville-Kinglake Road (Chum Creek) in Yarra Ranges Shire, long route treatment proposal valued at $301,000
- Heidelberg-Kinglake Rd in Nillumbik Shire, route safety treatment, proposal valued at $250,000
- Whittlesea-Yea Rd in Murrindindi Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $380,000
- Great Alpine Rd in Alpine Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $1,890,000
- Kyneton-Trentham Rd in Hepburn Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $86,000
- Hepburn Springs Rd in Hepburn Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $50,000
- Daylesford-Newstead Rd in Hepburn Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $162,000
- Colac–Lavers Hill Rd in Colac-Otway Shire, route safety treatment proposal valued at $622,000
- The addition of motorcyclist friendly rub-rail to guard fence safety barriers, region-wide through the Metropolitan South Eastern area, valued at $1,764,000
- Hoddle Street Bus Lane safety improvement project $28,000
- Targeted Road Maintenance for Motorcycle Touring Routes – $2,180,000.
Plus non-infrastructure work to promote safer riding:
- Promote and Encourage the Uptake of Motorcycles with Safer Technology – $1,000,000 over two years.