Region's road deaths halved

TEN people were killed on south-west roads last year, with speed and distraction both contributing to the pointless loss of life. 

Despite tougher penalties and bigger campaigns, country roads are still needlessly claiming lives, statistics by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) reveal.

The figures, which are based on municipality show four lives were taken in Southern Grampians, two in Moyne, three in the Colac Otway Shire and one in the Glenelg Shire. 

Although it is half of the 20 lives lost on the regions roads in 2011, senior police officers have told The Standard the safety message is still failing to reach motorists. 

Hamilton police attended five tragedies in 2012 — three of them in the last three months. 

Highway patrol sergeant Scott Williams who has seen many of the worst fatal accidents in the last two years said the answer lay in driver stupidity and the numbers based on police service areas stack up. 

More than 3500 offences were detected by Hamilton police for everything from drink-driving to not wearing seatbelts — 609 of them have been in the past month. 

“That’s a lot of offences for the Southern Grampians police service area, which is relatively small,” Sergeant Williams said. 

“A lot of that was for speeding and mobile phone offences.” 

Two recent accidents — including the deaths of a nine-year-old-girl at a truck accident in Muntham and a Hamilton teenager in Mount Baimbridge — are being investigated by the major crash investigation unit in Melbourne. 

Highway patrol has spent the last six weeks targeting lower-level speeding offences and those who think that 10km/h over is OK.

The push is part of a national campaign titled operation RAID.

“But people still seem to disregard the warnings and I don’t know why,” Sergeant Williams said. 

Inspector Kevin Archer of Warrnambool police said his members were still frustrated by the high number of drink-drivers caught by police in Warrnambool, Moyne and Corangamite. 

About 101 drink-drivers were caught in the Warrnambool police service area — which covers Warrnambool, Moyne and Corangamite — between January 1 to September 15.

“The majority of those were in excess of .1, which just goes to show that people have no idea,” Inspector Archer said. 

“That, combined with distraction offences and fatigue, is a major factor in our fatalities. 

“The number of our fatal accidents that go before the coroners court shows us there is an issue there.” 

One death on the road has far-reaching impacts beyond the family members. 

Sergeant Williams said the recent death of a 19-year-old man had shaken both the community and the emergency crews at the scene. 

“It affects all the emergency services and volunteers who take home what they see,” he said.

For police, it also means delivering tragic news to loved ones. 

“That’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do in this job,” he said.


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