BALLARAT police have made an urgent plea for drivers to take care over the Christmas period after another terrible day on the region’s roads, with three more people killed.
Two people died in a head-on collision near Lismore, and a third was killed in a motorbike accident at Maryborough.
Despite an overall reduction of 14 per cent in the state road toll compared to last year, December was shaping up as the worst month of the year, with 23 deaths so far and the major holiday period yet to come.
Even more concerning to police is that more than 60 per cent of the fatalities this year were on rural and regional roads.
Ballarat Highway Patrol Senior Sergeant Pat Cleary said it was a tragedy to lose three people on the roads in one day.
“It will be a day that many remember and it’ll stay with us,” he said.
“When these situations present themselves at Christmas time, they can hurt even more.
“The lives of their families have been changed forever and these events are truly saddening.”
Senior Sergeant Cleary said Ballarat was not seeing the same reduction in road deaths as elsewhere in the state this year.
“It’s a reminder to be so vigilant on the roads, take care at all stages and abide by all the road rules,” he said.
“Everyone needs to prepare for trips and ensure they are well-rested before drives and take ample breaks and swap drivers so they’re not impacted by fatigue.”
In the Lismore crash, a man and a woman in their late 60s and early 70s died after their Hyundai sedan collided with a four-wheel-drive ute on the Hamilton Highway about 11.40am.
The driver of the ute, aged in his 70s, was airlifted to The Alfred hospital in Melbourne in a critical condition with serious chest injuries.
A 56-year-old motorcyclist also died in a crash at Maryborough yesterday morning.
Police believe he was riding east along Old Tullaroop Road about 9am when he failed to negotiate a bend in the road and hit a tree.
The man died at the scene, but was not discovered until a passer-by located him about half an hour later and alerted emergency services.
Anyone who witnessed the Maryborough crash and is yet to speak to police is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au.
The road toll for Victoria is now 235, compared to 272 at the same time last year.