A black spot is any road location where the risk or probability of accidents occurring is far higher. These black spots are as a result of varying factors including concealed intersecting roads, inadequate warning signs, sharp corners, and poor road conditions.
Assessing and improving these areas is a key focus area throughout Australia. The Australian Government has developed and funded a Black Spot Programme. Its aim is to significantly reduce the number of accidents and increase the overall road safety. The 2015-2016 budget allocation is $12.8 million.
Just within Queensland alone, statistics for the period 2008-2012 revealed that intersection crashes were responsible for 9394 serious casualties. Intersections that do not contain adequate road signage result in higher crash risks. Run-off-the-road crashes resulted in 10,233 serious casualties. A run-off-the-road crash occurs when a vehicle diverts off the road and collides with a roadside object such as a tree or a pole. These types of crashes are particularly evident in black spot areas where the road contains unexpected sharp turns.
Various strategies have been implemented in order to mitigate any potential harm and significantly reduce severe incidents and fatalities.
Where it is evident that unsignalled cross intersections are creating a significant black spot, the intersections are being converted to roundabouts. This not only assists the flow of traffic, but also effectively ensures that all vehicles are visible to oncoming drivers.
Erecting cautionary traffic signals alerts drivers to the impending risks and encourages them to proceed carefully. These signs include notifying drivers of any unexpected changes in the road conditions, signalling that they need to reduce speed, and warning them of sharp bends or turns.
Grade separation describes a road junction in which the direct flow of traffic on one or more of the roads is not disrupted. Instead of a direct connection, traffic must use on and off ramps to access the other roads at the junction. If traffic can access the intersection effectively without needing to stop, then the junction is described as fully grade separated. It is essential that these areas are clearly sign posted and provide adequate driver safety.
Several roads meet a main road at a slight distance apart so they do not all intersect at the same point. Major single-point junctions are often reconfigured into staggered junctions in order to increase traffic flow and reduce collisions.
Delineation aims to reduce the frequency of crashes by helping drivers stay on the road. It includes pavement markings, object markers, curve warning signs, delineators, and arrows and chevrons on curves. It is used where other improvements would be too costly or ineffective, as an interim method until other improvements can be installed, and to help drivers avoid collisions with the guard rail.
These are just a few of the road safety strategies that can be used to alleviate the risks of black spots. While the removal of the black spot is not always possible, these protection methods ensure that the area will be safer for all motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Ensure that you always take note of warning signals as they will notify of upcoming dangers.