2 August 2019

Will painted chevrons prevent the Tuggeranong Parkway car trap?

| Ian Bushnell
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Chevron inverted Vs

Inverted Vs are being trialled on the Tuggeranong Parkway, but how effective would they be in preventing collisions? Photos: Region Media.

A notorious section of the Tuggeranong Parkway has been selected for a trial of new road markings designed to prevent tailgating and rear end collisions.

Chevrons, or inverted Vs, have been painted on the northbound lanes of the Parkway between the Cotter Road and Lady Denman Drive ramps, a stretch of road that continues to be plagued by peak hour accidents that can turn it into a car park.

The ACT Government says that in good driving conditions, motorists are advised to keep at least two chevrons apart. If conditions are poor, or the motorist is towing or driving a heavy vehicle, an even greater distance between the vehicle in front is recommended.

The chevrons have also been placed on a southbound stretch of the Parkway between Hindmarsh Drive and Sulwood Drive in Kambah.

In good driving conditions, keep at least two chevrons apart. In poorer conditions, keep an even greater distance between the vehicle in front.

The Government says that in 2017 there were 7716 crashes in the ACT, with 3363 or 44 per cent being rear end collisions, resulting in one death and 97 injuries.

Roads ACT said in June that in the last five years there had been 239 reported crashes on the Tuggeranong Parkway adjacent to the Arboretum, while in the same period there have been 46 reported crashes at the on/off-ramps joining the Cotter Road and the Tuggeranong Parkway.

It said that in 2019 there had been 21 reported crashes at these two sites, 20 adjacent to the Arboretum and one at the Cotter Road, although there is a two-month lead-time for crash data to be cleared and entered into the database.

The Government says an evaluation of the effectiveness of the chevron trial is anticipated to see a reduction in rear-end crashes in the treated sections of road, and may see it extended to other hot spots.

Minister for Road Safety Shane Rattenbury said too many Canberrans habitually tailgate, despite the risks of a serious collision on our roads.

“Sadly, we’re practically notorious for it,” he said. “The reality is – tailgating causes accidents, and not all of them minor. Putting some distance between you and the car in front can make all the difference when it comes to making our roads safer.”

But whether the chevrons work will depend on Canberra drivers using them, and while some might leave enough space, that may only invite others to cut in front from adjacent lanes.

They might help the merging issues at ramps or near the Arboretum, but if a pile-up occurs there is still next to nowhere to move vehicles.

Solutions to these problems may be expensive design or engineering ones. A bit of paint on the road is a cheaper option and worth trying but it will depend on changing ingrained driver behaviour.

The trial is part of the ACT Road Safety Action Plan 2016–2020.

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wildturkeycanoe5:37 pm 14 Aug 19

Biggest problem is as people slow down to create the required gap, the flow on effect makes traffic behind slow down. Eventually there is a standstill some kilometres before the chevrons. It creates chaos, it doesn’t prevent it.

These are not new. They are on the roads in other parts of Australia.

Capital Retro1:57 pm 05 Aug 19

They are as useless as a rainbow at a roundabout.

If you want to reduce accidents, start fining people who probably shouldn’t be allowed to have drivers licenses to begin with. The ones that are doing 20 below the limit. The ones that try to merge onto the parkway while doing 70 or less, or even coming to a stop in the on-ramp… Those are the people causing the accidents.

Maintaining the spacing is enough of an ask but it falls over when drivers reduce speed entering the 90 zone. Traffic then banks up bumper to bumper.

Peter Tilbrook6:40 pm 03 Aug 19

You will do the right thing but just like now someone will squeeze into the gap…

greensareliars11:25 am 03 Aug 19

The top photo shows that no-one is going to leave the recommended “2 chevron gap” when the traffic is heavy. A good number of drivers in the picture aren’t even leaving half the recommended gap.

I guess they deserve marks for trying to solve the seemingly intractable problem, but with the latest version of the ACT Road Rules Manual recommending a 3 second gap, and a chevron representing 1 second @100 km/h the decision makes have already created confusion among users of this bit of road. Hopefully, they can resolve this confusion with the next iteration.

I imagine the existence of the chevrons would enable to police to mount a fairly effective tailgating infringement issuing campaign and boost their tally against quota.

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