The 2013 AusRAP Star Ratings Report identified 225km section of the Stuart Hwy, between Darwin and Pine Creek as one of the deadliest and most “high risk” highways in the country. The report also showed that over 50% of the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory rated only 1 or 2 stars.
Between 1 and 5-stars are awarded to road links depending on the level of safety which is ‘built in’ to the road. The star ratings involve an inspection of design elements such as lane and shoulder width and the presence of safety barriers, which are known to have an impact on the likelihood of a crash and its severity. The best roads are likely to be straight, dual divided carriageways with good line-marking, with wide lanes and sealed shoulders, safe roadsides and few, if any intersections.
Urgent investment is needed to improve safety on the Stuart Highway. Motorists pay 38 cents per litre of petrol in tax but only 11 cents per litre is spent on improving roads, and that could make all the difference. It is estimated that of all road fatalities half of these would be avoided through road upgrades including wider road shoulders, better lane markings, more overtaking lanes, removing obstacles from the edge of the road, putting barriers on the edge of the road, etc. These measures can have a huge impact.
Australia’s National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020 recognises the critical need to improve road infrastructure, particularly those road features specifically designed to reduce on-road, intersection and head on crashes.