Calls grow for national alert system ahead of bushfire season

Bushfires half the size of Tasmania have been burning across the Northern Territory since mid-September.

These have led to regular closures of major freight routes.

The fires serve as an early warning of what is forecast to be a severe bushfire season.

To avoid yet another year of chaotic interstate freight route disruptions, Western Roads Federation and the NT Road Transport Association are calling for a national interstate freight route alert system.

“Currently all systems are state based, leading to some interstate drivers arriving at or near incident sites,” said Cam Dumesny, Western Roads Federation CEO.

“A national system enabling earlier incident advice to interstate drivers may enable them to consider alternative plans,” he said.

“Having a single site, may also address the issue of some jurisdictions posting to notifications on different platforms not all of which are read by interstate drivers.”

Early advice has to be given to interstate operators when a road is closed due to a fire or flood incident.

These are lessons that were learnt in 2020 during the Eyre Highway fires and again being taught by the Barkly Highway fires.

A solution is relatively at hand.

Not unlike the Main Roads Travel Map used in Western Australia, most jurisdictions have a form of travel alert, which could be integrated into one national alert system.

The system could automate texts for subscribing interstate companies and drivers to provide updates and fair warning along key freight corridors.

“Early advice and notification will provide companies and drivers with the opportunity to reconsider their plans,” said Dumesny.

In July Western Roads Federation, as part of a joint statement, urged the Federal Government to establish an industry taskforce to build the resilience of major freight networks across Northern and remote Australia.

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