An audit released by the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA) has found that 65 per cent of South Australia’s highways are below standard, resulting in deaths and injuries.

The highway audit is part of the Australian Road Assessment Program (AusRAP) which evaluates the safety of national highways based on casualty crash data.

Of the 2,664kms of national highway that were assessed, 15 per cent (415km) were rated high risk, 22 per cent (594km) were rated medium to high risk, 28 per cent (740km) medium risk, 24 per cent (633) low to medium risk, and just 11 per cent (283km) were rated low risk.

RAA Senior Manager Road Safety, Charles Mountain, said the findings highlight the need for safety improvements to South Australian roads.

“Any risk rating medium or higher is below standard and needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, that includes the majority of our state’s highways,” Mr Mountain said.

“The highest risk roads include the Sturt Highway between Barmera to Berri, the Stuart Highway from the NT Border to Coober Pedy, and the Crafers Interchange to Verdun Interchange on the South Eastern Freeway; totalling 415km of high risk road in South Australia.

“The 68km stretch of the Augusta Highway from Port Wakefield to Port Augusta was called out as a medium–high risk, but has one of the highest levels of road trauma accounting for 29 per cent of casualty crashes and 22 per cent of fatalities. This tells us that when crashes do occur on this stretch of road, they tend to have devastating outcomes.”

The report also revealed that fatalities are more likely to occur on national highways than any other road in South Australia. Just over three fatalities occur per 100km of South Australia’s national highway (which totals 2,446km), compared to 0.5 fatalities per 100km of all other roads in the state (which totals 94,803km).

“Inadequate road infrastructure needs to be upgraded to protect motorists. This could result in substantial reductions in crash rates,” Mr Mountain said.

“With the right investment even the worst stretches of road can be made significantly safer.”

The 22km section of Sturt Highway from Paringa to the Victorian Border was rated the state’s safest section of highway, followed by the South Eastern Freeway from Verdun to Mount Barker Interchange, and the Northern Expressway from Waterloo Corner to Gawler.

The ten worst highway sections in South Australia ranked from highest to lowest are:

  1. Sturt Highway, Barmera to Berri, 15km, high risk
  2. Stuart Highway, Northern Territory border to Coober Pedy, 391km, high risk
  3. South Eastern Freeway, Crafers Interchange to Verdun, 9km, high risk
  4. Sturt Highway, Gawler Bypass to Daveyston, 16km, medium-high risk
  5. Port Augusta/Port Wakefield Road, Port Wakefield to Northern Expressway, 68km, medium-high risk
  6. Eyre Highway, Yalata to Fowler Bay, 95km, medium-high
  7. Port Augusta/Port Wakefield Road, Snowtown to Port Wakefield, 50km, medium-high risk
  8. Stuart Highway, Coober Pedy to Woomera, 365km, medium-high risk
  9. Stuart Highway, Woomera to Port Augusta, 170km, medium risk
  10. Stuart Highway, Ceduna to Kyancutta, 219km, medium risk

The ten best highway sections in South Australia ranked lowest to highest are:

  1. Sturt Highway, Paringa to Victorian border, 22km, low risk
  2. South Eastern Freeway, Verdun Interchange to Mount Barker Interchange, 8km, low risk
  3. Northern Expressway, Waterloo Corner to Gawler, 23km, low risk
  4. Dukes Highway, Keith to Bordertown, 46km, low risk
  5. South Eastern Freeway, Mount Barker Interchange to Tailem Bend, 67km, low risk
  6. Port Augusta/Port Wakefield Road, Port Augusta to Port Pirie, 82km, low risk
  7. Eyre Highway, Lincoln Highway to Port Augusta, 23km, low risk
  8. Sturt Highway, Berri to Renmark, 12km, low risk
  9. Sturt Highway, Blanchetown to Barmera, 88km, low-medium risk
  10. Sturt Highway, Truro to Blanchetown, 48km, low-medium risk
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