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Connecting people & communities CRANBOURNE Thursday, 17 August, 2017

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■ 40 injured in 27 crashes in 38 months at fatal crash site...

Lives on the line By Victoria Stone-Meadows Council has vowed to do everything it can to protect people on the roads in the City of Casey following the death of a teenage girl and her mother in Cranbourne last week. Xinyu Yuan, 14, and her mother, Ma Li Dai, 44, were killed when a car smashed into theirs on the South Gippsland Highway at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 9 August, as they were leaving Lighthouse Christian College. While the 100km/h zone of the South Gippsland Highway between Bullarto Road and Baxter-Tooradin Road in Cranbourne is not deemed a blackspot by VicRoads, there has been a number of traffic accidents there over the years. Data from VicRoads show that between January 2014 and February this year, there has been 27 crashes on that stretch of the highway that has resulted in 40 people injured. Councillor Geoff Ablett raised an item of urgent business at a council meeting on Tuesday 15 August that will see council strongly advocate for changes to the road conditions around the school. The motion, which was passed unanimously, will see council writing to VicRoads and Victoria Police to take action on improving safety on the South Gippsland Highway. Cr Ablett said the urgent recommendation was written in conjunction with mayor Sam Aziz and Casey’s manager of City Design and Construction Trevor Griffin. “The loss of these two lives is a very tragic situation, and it is important we get together to do everything we can as soon as we can to improve this very difficult turn,” he said. “The police are still investigating the exact circumstances of the accident, but this gives an opportunity for

Cr Geoff Ablett and pastor Phil Cayzer with the traffic on the South Gippsland Highway outside the school. 171604

the school to talk about how fast the traffic is and for us to talk to VicRoads to reduce the speed limit.” Cr Ablett said the stretch of the South Gippsland Highway outside the school desperately needed a reduced speed limit school zone. “In our discussions, we will be talking about a school zone,” he said. “There should be lights like we have for Tooradin which has made a huge difference to the traffic speed in the town.” Following the fatal collision, VicRoads CEO John Merritt said VicRoads would be looking at ways to

improve safety on the road outside the school. “I am deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life, and my heart goes out to those involved, their family and friends,” he said. “Following every death on our roads, VicRoads inspects the site and works with Victoria Police through their investigation.” “VicRoads will look at what can be done to improve safety for drivers exiting the school’s driveway and continue to monitor traffic conditions.” Mayor Sam Aziz said while council would advocate for residents' safety, he

advised the people of Casey to take action as well. “Residents should be contacting their local member of parliament as VicRoads is an instrument of the parliament and members would have jurisdiction over that,” he said. “Our hands are tied because it is not our road but our role in this instance is advocacy on behalf of the residents.” Part of the council recommendation involves writing to Victoria Police to increase traffic monitoring operations on this particular part of the South Gippsland Highway. Victoria Police Acting Area Com-

mander Tim Hansen revealed in a press conference following the accident that the offending driver had been in an argument at a nearby pub before the crash. “It is an important time to take stock and remember these two victims are not going home to their family, and there is a broader network who are significantly impacted by this,” Acting Commander Hansen said. “We have had 150 people die on Victorian roads this year, and in over 10 per cent of those it was found the driver experienced a traumatic event before getting in their car and having a fatal collision.” “While police are focused on distractions inside the car, there is a trend where distractions are external and people are jumping in cars in highly emotive states and driving dangerously; taking out frustrations and putting others a risk,” he said. Mr Hansen urged everyone to take responsibility for themselves and their families on the roads by speaking with loved ones about the dangers of driving in a distracted state. “The time for justifying and blaming others had ended; we all need to take responsibility for our own actions,” he said. “None of us are perfect drivers, we all get frustrated, we all hate congestion, we all have relationship issues, but this doesn’t justify driving like a hoon and endangering lives.” “It is not fair to those people who don’t get to go home.” At the council meeting on Tuesday, Cr Ablett said council had a duty of care to residents to ensure incidents like this were less likely in the future. “It could happen again and we will be going all out to get a school zone in place,” he said.

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News - Cranbourne - 17th August 2017  
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