A DOUBLE fatality at Berrybank and three other road deaths last weekend were a grim reminder for Victorian motorists not to become complacent, a senior police officer said yesterday.
Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing Robert Hill issued the warning in the wake of record low Victorian road toll figures in 2012.
The state’s 2012 road toll of 282, the fifth consecutive record low, marks the seventh year in a row where the road toll has continued to drop, witht he figure being five less than 2011.
Of 152 deaths on country roads, there were five killed in the Portland, Warrnambool and Hamilton regions.
Despite the positive trend, Assistant Commissioner Hill said last weekend’s carnage was “a real reminder that Victorians couldn’t take their minds off road safety for a second”.
Two of the weekend’s deaths occurred in a two-car crash on the Hamilton Highway at Berrybank, near Lismore.
“While a fifth consecutive record low road toll is something the community should be congratulated for, we can never rest on our laurels and need to strive for no deaths on Victorian roads,” Assistant Commissioner Hill said.
“Our focus is often on younger drivers and rightly so — almost 21 per cent of people killed on our roads last year were aged between 18 and 24.
“Young drivers are more likely to be involved in road trauma because they lack experience, they underestimate risks, they engage in risk-taking behaviour and are more likely to use alcohol and drugs.
“We’ll continue to work with our partners at the TAC, the Department of Justice and VicRoads to continue to educate young drivers, but it is important that parents, family and peers also take responsibility for the safety of young drivers — this is a whole-of-community effort.
“What’s also concerning is the increase in the number of older drivers killed on our roads. Forty-one per cent of people killed on Victorian roads last year were 50 or older and with an ageing population, we can expect this number to increase in the coming years.
“Most older people are perfectly capable of driving safely and are some of our best drivers. However, physical and mental changes that accompany ageing can impact the capabilities of older drivers.
“It is important that family and friends talk with older drivers if they have safety concerns about their driving or road behaviour. They are not easy conversations to have, but they are important ones not only for the safety of the family member but for all road users.”
He said it was disappointing that one in five of those killed had not been wearing seatbelts.
“How 41 people who lost their lives on our roads were not wearing a seatbelt just baffles me. It is estimated that wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of death or serious injury by 50 per cent.”