The death of a 24-year-old woman in a single-vehicle collision at Ellerslie has set off alarm bells for police with Melbourne drivers coming out of lockdown.
South-west road safety adviser Acting Senior Sergeant Dean Greenwood said there had been a number of single-vehicle collisions during the past fortnight.
A six-year-old boy passenger was seriously injured in a collision with a tree at Mortlake and a middle aged man was also flown to Melbourne hospital after a Terang crash.
That followed a double fatality at Winslow on the afternoon of August 27 and the death of a 51-year-old Koroit woman at Cooriemungle on August 20.
There have been 13 people die on south-west roads this year, compared to 10 for the same time last year.
There were 12 people killed on south-west roads last year, 16 during 2019 and 11 in 2018.
"It is concerning that we have all spent a lot of time in COVID lockdown and now things are opening up," Acting Senior Sergeant Greenwood said.
"There are very soon going to be a lot of Melbourne drivers on the road during the holiday period and people will have forgotten how to drive, forgotten their good driving habits.
"Metropolitan people have been restricted to driving within five and 15 kilometres of their homes during the latest lockdown.
"They have been driving in 40km/h, 50, 60 or 80 zones on nice freeways.
"In the country there are narrow shoulders on roads, livestock and other distractions in 100km/h zones.
"Those drivers are going from five lanes on the Westgate Freeway at 80km/h to 100km/h along the Foxhow Road and Great Ocean Road."
The road safety adviser said fatigued drivers were a major concern after Melbourne lockdowns involving curfews when motorists would not have been on the road at night and early in the mornings.
He said Operation Compass would run over the Melbourne Cup long weekend between October 29 and November 2 focusing on the major five causes of collisions - speed, impaired driving, seatbelts, distraction and fatigue.
"It's very difficult to police fatigue," Acting Senior Sergeant Greenwood said.
"It's about driver awareness and the responsibility of a licence holder to identify the symptoms, to recognise the signs of fatigue.
"Do you remember the last two kilometres? Did you have a micro nap for two seconds when you were actually asleep?
"Winding down the window or turning up the radio is not a solution. Have a 15-minute power nap, change drivers and make sure you plan your trip."
The road safety adviser said single-vehicle collisions were avoidable because they were caused by driver error.
"Whether drug or alcohol impairment, speed, distraction caused by a mobile phone or other people, fatigue or a driver or passenger failing to wear a seatbelt," he said.
"We would save an enormous amount of grief in the community and among emergency services personnel, by reducing or eliminating those collisions.
"In the country the chances of a first responder knowing a victim is pretty high.
"The last thing that police members want to do is knock on someone's door, especially leading up to Christmas, and say 'your loved one is not coming home'.
"That's a heart-breaking job," he said.
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