One star safety rating for Upper Yorke Road unacceptable: RAA says

28 August, 2023

RAA is calling for urgent safety upgrades to a key Yorke Peninsula road and freight route following shocking results from the state’s peak motoring organisation’s road safety assessment.

RAA’s road safety experts conducted an assessment of the Upper Yorke Road from Maitland to Kulpara – rating 33km of the 48km stretch of road an unacceptable one star.

The section of Upper Yorke Road was also nominated as South Australia’s third riskiest regional road in RAA’s 2021 Risky Roads survey, which attracted more than 2,100 nominations for SA roads.

The top issues raised were:

  • Potholes, cracks or rutting (83 per cent of nominations)
  • Crumbling road edges (77 per cent of nominations)
  • Rough, slippery or loose surface (57 per cent of nominations)

Senior Traffic Engineer Matthew Vertudaches said RAA’s report made some key recommendations to increase road safety on the notorious stretch of road.

“The condition of the majority of this road is unacceptable and a serious safety concern,” Mr Vertudaches said.

“The Arthurton to Kulpara stretch of road is well known to the community and is a key transport corridor for many farmers and unsuspecting tourists.

“The current width is inadequate for two vehicles to pass through the road safely.

“Heavy vehicles have been pulling off the road edge to maintain a safe passing distance between oncoming vehicles, which leads to rock sprays, dust, and a bigger lip on the edge of the road.

“RAA’s recommendation is to reseal and widen the road from its current 5.5 metre width to provide 3.3 metre lanes each way and 1 metre sealed shoulders.

“Further recommendations are to install edge lines and hazard protection and potentially some vegetation removal, especially on curves to increase visibility of oncoming traffic and where the runoff road risk is greater.

“These upgrades would give most of this section of Upper Yorke Road an AusRAP safety rating of three stars.

“This notorious stretch of road was recently voted as ‘Worst Grain Road in South Australia’ by members of Grain Producers SA.”

RAA estimates the Arthurton to Kulpara upgrade will require approximately $16 million to upgrade the section to a similar standard as the Arthurton to Maitland section.

“We know that a 13km stretch between Arthurton and Maitland received a $6million upgrade about two years ago which improved the rating from mostly one star to mostly three stars, reducing the likelihood of serious crashes occurring by 64 per cent,” Mr Vertudaches said.

“While this was a welcome investment, it is not nearly enough to ensure the entire stretch of road is repaired to an acceptable standard.”

For more on RAA’s road assessments and to download a full report visit