A photo of an RJAWS stop sign equipped with active warning technology at  a McLaren Vale intersection with vineyards and a white ute in the background.

Published on 16 January 2024

Revealed: new plans for McLaren Vale intersection upgrades

The City of Onkaparinga wants your feedback on five proposed McLaren Vale intersection upgrades—part of a wider $4.98 million project to improve road safety at 21 intersections in the region.

The proposed upgrades for the five intersections (locations listed below) use Rural Junction Active Warning Systems (RJAWS) technology, which are road signs equipped with a radar that activates a flashing light warning system.

You can learn more about the proposed upgrades and provide your feedback at council’s Your Say page until Monday 5 February.

The latest upgrades come in the wake of enhanced warning signage that has already been installed at 14 intersections, with council also having already sought community feedback on two more significant upgrades—using ‘teardrop’ islands and a ‘compact roundabout’—in late 2023.

Where would the RJAWS signage be installed?

  1. Seaview Road and Coppermine Road / Olivers Road
  2. Aldinga Road and California Road / Almond Grove Road
  3. Main Road and Malpas Road / Binney Road
  4. Malpas Road and California Road
  5. Bayliss Road and Communication Road (proposed upgrade involves a change in road priority—see below)

How does the technology work?

RJAWS is intended to improve driver awareness by providing advance notice of upcoming intersections, ultimately enhancing safety on rural roads.

For vehicles approaching at speed on the minor road, the RJAWS system will activate the stop/give way signs, causing the edges to flash in bright red. This additional warning signal prompts the driver to slow down, reducing the risk of collisions.

On the major road, where drivers have right of way, a Variable Message Sign (VMS) will activate, alerting drivers that a vehicle is approaching from the side road. This notification serves to heighten awareness and increase reaction times, and allows for a safer response if the driver on the minor road fails to stop and appears likely to proceed through the intersection.

This proactive approach is aligned with the Safe System Approach—a philosophy acknowledging that people may make mistakes. The RJAWS system aims to significantly reduce the likelihood of high-speed collisions and minimise their impact.

Bayliss Road and Communication Road

At the intersection of Bayliss Road and Communication Road, the council is considering changing the road priority, with Communication Road becoming the major road with priority over Bayliss Road.

Typically, major roads have the right of way at crossroad intersections, ensuring smoother traffic flow and reducing the likelihood of motorists on the minor road approaches failing to give way. Where traffic patterns change over time, a reassessment may be necessary for optimal traffic management and safety.

In the case of Communication Road, this road currently carries much higher traffic volumes than Bayliss Road—therefore most vehicles are required to stop at the intersection, whereas the minority of vehicles travelling along Bayliss Road have priority.

Due to the much higher volumes on Communication Road, there’s a higher probability of a motorist failing to give way at the current arrangement, and therefore a higher likelihood of a high-speed collision occurring.

On this basis, the council proposes to change the priority so vehicles on Bayliss Road are required to give way to those travelling along Communication Road. Altering the priority at an intersection can introduce safety risks until motorists become familiar with the change, therefore the council would implement temporary warning signage to draw attention to the change. This will assist motorists, especially locals familiar with the intersection, in adapting to the new traffic conditions.

About the 21 intersections project

In 2021, the City of Onkaparinga undertook an audit of the intersections on Main Road between McLaren Vale and Willunga following a series of three fatal and serious injury crashes.

On completion of the audit, a broader assessment was undertaken across the McLaren Vale wine region, identifying a total of 21 intersections with an elevated risk of crashes and associated road trauma.

The City of Onkaparinga then advocated for state government funding for upgrades to improve safety at these intersections, with Leon Bignell MP subsequently making a state government election commitment of $4.2 million to deliver these upgrades.

The council secured a subsequent additional funding contribution of $737,500 in 2023 from the Australian Government’s Black Spot Program for the intersection upgrade of Main, Johnston and McMurtrie Roads.

Both the state government’s Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) and City of Onkaparinga have individual and shared responsibility for roads in the area, with DIT responsible for roads such as Main and Aldinga Roads, while council is responsible for adjoining local roads.

Council and DIT have been working collaboratively to determine the most appropriate design treatments to improve safety. This includes the use innovative solutions to reduce the potential for crashes. All upgrades are anticipated to be completed by June 2025.