‘Fatality waiting to happen’: calls for added safety measures near school on Belgrave-Gembrook Road

Car accidents have been reported on Belgrave-Gembrook Road in Selby, between Long Pockitt Lane and Selby Primary School. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

By Tyler Wright

There are calls for added safety precautions along a treacherous stretch of road on Belgrave-Gembrook Road in Selby, with a petition tabled in parliament.

Resident Alana O’Callaghan, who launched the petition on Thursday 16 November, said the problem is “twofold”.

“Historically, over a very long period of time, there’s been issues with motor vehicle accidents, motor vehicles losing control on this section of road and crashing,” Ms O’Callaghan said.

“What prompted me to take action for the second time more recently, is that there were a few accidents in the course of a few weeks.

“I’ve lived here 15 years and in the initial years that I lived here there were regular accidents which led to a campaign about seven or eight years ago, which the Selby Primary School also were a big part of and it resulted in James Merlino who was the local MP at the time helping to get VicRoads to come and assess this patch of road – which is just near the Selby Primary School.“

Ms O’Callaghan said her garage was recently “destroyed“ by a vehicle that fell down the enbankment; also knocking over a tree and subsequently damaging her car.

“A few weeks later, there was an accident three o ’clock on a weekday when the school zone signs were flashing 40 and some young fellas, on a straight stretch of road, somehow managed to spin out 360 degrees across the school footpath into the white fence and into a tree.

“Children were going to be using that footpath, and so that prompted me to try and start a campaign again and work with the local primary school and local residents; as much community support as I could to see if we can get some better safety measures because everyone’s saying this is a fatality waiting to happen.“

Ms O’Callaghan’s petition, now with 105 signatures at the time of writing and sponsored by Monbulk MP Daniela De Martino is calling for the Department of Transport and Planning to assess the section of road and install further safety measures as a ’matter of urgency, before a serious injury or fatality of a school child or other pedestrian occurs’.

Measures suggested to the Legislative Assembly include armco railing between edge of road and footpath, more prominent signage which flashes 24/7 not just at school times, speed cameras, traffic calming measures, and speed humps/traffic islands.

“It would just be awful if one day someone actually really does get knocked over,” Ms O’Callaghan said.

“We’re talking about a main road where people quite happily do 80 [km/h] and you’ve got a main road with a footpath that’s got no barrier of any sort between the very edge of the road and the gutter that runs along the edge of the bitumen of the road and the beginning of the concrete at the footpath.

“As to what the exact solution is, it’s a bit tricky.”

Daniela De Martino said she is “very supportive” of the petition.

“Which is why I am proud to sponsor it,” she said.

“I will continue to advocate for any improvement to this section of road, given the past accidents which have recently occurred there.

“I have full confidence in the Minister and Department working to make this stretch of road safer.”

A Department of Transport and Planning spokesperson told the Star Mail “we need everyone making safe choices on our roads and we urge drivers to pay extra attention around schools and always obey school zone times and speed limits”.

“We regularly inspect the entire arterial road network to identify defects, treat any hazards and maintain roads in a safe condition,” the spokesperson said.

It is understood the Department of Transport and Planning inspected the road condition of Belgrave-Gembrook Road, near the Selby Primary School crossing, on Wednesday 15 November 2023 with no safety issues with the road surface identified.

The Department of Transport and Planning assesses road safety requirements specific to each location to identify whether safety improvements are needed – these factors include traffic and pedestrian volumes, the types of road users, visibility and sight lines, existing infrastructure and surrounding speed zones.

The Department of Transport and Planning has installed flashing 40km/h speed limit signs in both directions on Belgrave-Gembrook Road in the lead up to the Selby Primary School crossing.

The Department of Transport and Planning works with Victoria Police to investigate collisions resulting in injury.

It is understood there have been no collisions on Belgrave-Gembrook Road in Selby, near the Selby Primary School crossing resulting in injury in the most recent five-year period to 31 December 2022.

Around schools drivers are advised to:

• Stick to the 40km/h limit.

• Stay alert, be mindful of pedestrians, bike riders and other motorists and look out for crossings. Avoid U-turns, three-point turns, and other complex manoeuvres as they disrupt the flow of traffic and can be dangerous.

• Always give way to pedestrians, including when entering and leaving driveways.

• Follow the direction of school crossing supervisors at supervised crossings.

The petition will close on Saturday 16 December, and can be accessed via new.parliament.vic.gov.au/get-involved/petitions/belgrave-gembrook-rd-near-selby-primary-school