10 December 2007

Barton Highway is the most dangerous road in Australia

| Skidbladnir
Join the conversation

According to the ABC Online, the Barton Highway is the most dangerous piece of highway in the country.
This website here has the “risk map” on which the article bases its claims, and the rest of the site has how they calculate it.

According to the above map, any major highway out of Canberra to Sydney or Melbourne puts you at high or medium-high risk, but it neglects to mention the Monaro highway out past Michelago to Cooma.
In the winter it seems more like a mass-cannonball-run, but they don’t show any stats on it.

Anyone up for a little cross-border\federal negotiation on roads?

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

The link is to the wrong map. You need to look at the that scales the accident rate to account for the number of cars using the road. Barton Highway safe doesn’t quite have the same ring does it?

Turns out that the Federal Highway north of Lake George is more dangerous than the Barton Highway.

Felix the Cat9:18 pm 11 Dec 07

I find when travelling back from Sydney to Canberra I am almost falling asleep on the Hume Freeway but as soon as I turn off onto the Federal Hwy where I have to concentrate a bit harder I am instantly awake and alert.

Same if I travel to Nowra through the Southern Highlands. I am falling asleep on the Hume Freeway but as soon as I turn off onto the Illawarra Hwy I am awak and alert again.

I think sometimes the roads are too good and too safe. Or…the speed limits are too low. I am much more alert when I’m driving at 130km/h than 100 or 110km/h, on roads such as the Hume.

Gaining a license a looooong time ago, it was always an unwritten rule that if another car caught up to you, it was travelling faster, and you always let it pass, as a matter of courtesy. You could always race it after it was in front!

Dosn’t seem to apply today. And the road race has died under the weight of enforcement. Bugger.

I see that the Federal Highway between Canberra and Goulburn also scores poorly. I wonder if this is because of that most remarkable and very poorly marked bit where the nourthbound Fed merges into the Hume. I drive it every week and it still amazes at how just how badly it is lit or marked for a convergence of two major roadways. Not to mention that traffic coming of the Fed ends up in the right hand lane of the Hume. Ever seen the look of surprise on a driver overtaking a truck when all of a sudden you appear out of nowhere on the road from the national capital? How is it allowed to be left so poorly engineered?

Although I am talking more so about the more suburban parts of the Barton here where you are probably considering more so the open highway situation there is really no need to be in the right lane except and only when overtaking. Most people seem to be pretty good at that tho I’ve found.

VYBerlinaV8, I absolutely agree that there are far too many inconsiderate people in the right lane and it drives me nuts too…

It’s quite amusing to watch them all pile over and execute some stressful dangerous driving instead of overtaking properly (as if they think they are always going to be faster than the left lane and therefore belong in the right lane for as long as possible). All that happens is that the left and right cars keep overtaking each other at various stages, no matter what speed they’re doing.

The swervers are the silliest. They never seem to learn that you can’t really predict the fastest lane in this situation. That’s like trying to predict the shortest cue at the supermarket.

I actually ponder what would happen if everyone was mainly in the left lane, maybe that would make things a bit clogged up too. I think there has to be a bit more common sense tho, how about – if there’s a safe gap in the left and you’re in the right lane – use it! So often I merge back into the left and get to cruise past all the cars stubbornly sitting in the right when that really wasn’t my care or intention…

Unfort my car is tiny and has no guts either so it’s a dangerous and lengthy pain when someone sitting 10k under speeds right up when you overtake!

Growling Ferret11:43 am 11 Dec 07


The 6 people killed last weekend in the NT were in a car that had sped off when confronted by an RBT, and rolled multiple times. The passengers were not wearing seatbelts (it seems only the driver who survived was wearing one) and were flung from the vehicle. That accident was nothing to do with speed limits.

The Barton Highway is dangerous – the number of lunatics you see who have been on dual carriageway for a while then get back to the single lane each way and try desperate overtaking manoevers. From the end of teh Yass bypass to Murrumbateman, there is only a single overtaking lane and EVERYONE speeds up to 120 on it.

The road in itself is not dangerous, but the actions of drivers are. As it is also the ‘final leg’ before drivers get home, it seems a fair few switch off mentally and that’s when accidents occur.

Hume from Goulburn to Sydney is again the ‘last leg’ theory for people who are driving from the ski-fields and Victoria/Melbourne back to Sydney. Fatigue and the added congestion approaching Sydney means accidents are more prevalent.

James-T-Kirk11:43 am 11 Dec 07

Mmm – Lets blame the safety of the road – not the training of the drivers!

When I were a lad, we did our license test, and were handed our full paper license – No differential speed limits, no speed cameras, no passenger limit, no curfew.

The standard of driver training must have dropped to damn near zero – we have to limit the drivers responsibilities, muck around with the speed limits, fit air bags to the cars, and generally muck around.

Bring back quality driver training – not the bloody stupid ‘log book’ system. Bring back quality examination. But, start before that at the morals and values of the trainee drivers.

Even my mates with the V8 panel vans, lived. Today, most kids have no chance.

Oh – by the way – the correct speed to achieve to overtake somebody doing 70 is 120. That way, before they figure out that you might be overtaking them, and they speed up, the deed is done. Just like pulling off a bandaid!

“I know most people speed to overtake but if you think back to when we got our licenses it is actually ILLEGAL to speed, even when overtaking. ie. there should be no need to overtake if the car you are trying to get around is already doing the speed limit…”

That’s right. Which is why I have to wonder why people choose to use the right hand lane of a dual lane highway when not actually passing another vehicle.

As for overtaking in single lane situations, I am a firm believer that the less time spent on the wrong side of the road the better. That doesn’t mean getting to 180 every time you overtake, but if you’re passing someone doing 90, I see no problem with momentarily getting up to 130 to safely get past, then back on the cruise control when finished.

Monaro and Kings highways were not mentioned because the report only covered “National” highways. I would have thought that the Princes Highway would have been even worse than the Pacific, were they considering lower grade highways.

Most interesting was the Hume Highway being considered High Risk all the way from Goulburn to Sydney – the entire length of which is dual carriageway.

The Sturt Highway across the Hay Plain is understandably low risk. Few bends, none tight, visibility 10km+, with a good road surface. The only reason for an accident out there would be fatigue or hitting a roo.

having said that tho people who are going slow and then speed up when you overtake are really the frustration for many.
I once had fun with a car in an 80 zone who was doing 70 when I was behind them but when I went to overtake they’d keep speeding up to 90. I just kept dropping back to 80 and merging back in behind them til they got the message and let me overtake. Not that i’d recommend that is the right thing to do (there was no-one else around at the time and it was just some silly woman) but it made my point well and probably annoyed them too!

“One of the most common problems is the frustration caused by cars with blue and white number plates cruising along at or below the limit in the right hand lane”

I know most people speed to overtake but if you think back to when we got our licenses it is actually ILLEGAL to speed, even when overtaking. ie. there should be no need to overtake if the car you are trying to get around is already doing the speed limit…

Ingeegoodbee9:27 am 11 Dec 07

I’m really surprised that the Monaro Hwy between Canberra and Cooma and the Kosciuszko Road from Cooma to Jindabyne dosn’t have more fatalities – some of the dumbest driving I have ever seen has taken place on those roads.

Holden Caulfield11:51 pm 10 Dec 07

I used to drive the Barton Hwy every day in the early 90s and I have to say I’m surprised that it rates so poorly.

Fozzy – the method used to calculate the map linked (average casualty crashes per km of road) is, in my opinion, not nearly as useful as that used to generate the second set of maps on that site (average casualty crashes per vehicle km travelled). The second one gives a much better picture of how dangerous the road is for any given driver – of course a busier road is going to have more crashes than an identical bit of road that has one car per week on it – it doesn’t mean it’s more dangerous per se. The map here is probably more what you’re expecting (and a much better indication of where work is required).

Felix the Cat10:04 pm 10 Dec 07

I think the large roundabout on the Barton Hwy near Giralang has had a few accidents. I know nearly every time I go through it I see near misses.

Felix the Cat10:02 pm 10 Dec 07

Also there was a report recently in newspapers about a tragic road accident in NT where I think there were 6 people killed in the one single car accident, quite ironic since they have now lowered the speed limit from unrestricted to 130km/h and that the road toll is up 12 from the same period last year. I know NT is nowhere near ACT, just noting that speed is not always the reason for accidents.

the beast stays east8:35 pm 10 Dec 07

bring on the murrumbateman eastern bypass – let the west rest with the CORE breeding areas of the endangered superb parrot

You have to go to page 7 of this:

to see some numbers on the various risk levels.

Also, I am shocked — SHOCKED, I say — that Victoria’s rash of speed cameras still results in highways with equivalent danger levels to NSW.

It seems a bit strange the rating.

The F3 from Newcastle to Sydney is a High Risk also and that’s a 2 or 3 lane divided carriageway all the way. Similarly the road across the Hay Plains is considered low risk but it’s a single lane in each direction with no dividing on the road.

That’s not to say that the road out to the Hume isn’t dangerous, but just that the ratings seems to be a bit strange.

… that said, some of the craziest overtaking you will EVER see is on the Monaro Hwy heading south during winter. Imported 4WDs seem to be the biggest offenders.

One of the most common problems is the frustration caused by cars with blue and white number plates cruising along at or below the limit in the right hand lane. This might have become socially acceptable in Canberra, but it’s not in many other parts of the country.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.