ROAD authorities are making a last minute New Year plea to drivers to stop the region’s road toll, which is the worst in 20 years, from further increasing.
This year the combined Ballarat, Moorabool, Hepburn and Pyrenees government area recorded 21 road fatalities – more than four times higher than in 2015.
The TAC wants to cut the state’s growing road toll from 288 this year to less than 200 by 2020.
Their efforts have been tireless, but messages splashed across roadside boards, aired on television and spread across the newspapers are clearly failing to get through to motorists.
“It is alarming and disturbing,” Senior Sergeant Pat Cleary said. The toll in this region has never been this bad, he said.
The number of serious injury accidents has reduced but fatalities have risen.
Veteran road safety advocate John Maher, whose daughter died 20 years ago, sees people breaking the law every single day on the roads.
“Every single day I see people using their mobile phones in their cars, you see them when you pull up at traffic lights, head down reading a text, sending a text – quite frankly this behaviour is illegal,” Mr Maher said.
TAC senior road safety manager Samantha Cockfield has urged road users to remember that everyone is vulnerable on the roads.
“The reality is we do know the number of people who have died on Victorian country roads has increased enormously this year.”
“The major user groups (who have been killed) are country drivers and motorcyclists. We see there is a high level of risk-taking happening.”
Since January 1 the TAC recorded eight fatalities in Ballarat, six in Hepburn, six in Moorabool and one in the Pyrenees area.
Thirteen men and eight women were killed.
The age range of victims is vast. Six were aged from 18-25; seven between 30 and 49 and seven aged 60 and over.
No pedestrians were killed. The overwhelming number of fatalities involved a driver or passenger. While an increase in motorcycle fatalities led a spike in much of Victoria’s road toll only one motorcyclist was killed on the roads in this region.
Ms Cockfield said country drivers continued to overestimate their own abilities, drive too fast for the conditions and not prepare enough for changing conditions.
“TAC and Victoria Police also recognise people are becoming a bit too comfortable as road users. We really need to start talking about the sorts of issues that are leading to people being killed,” Ms Cockfield said.
She said the recent Rethink Speed campaign encouraged drivers to take responsibility for their actions and think about how different conditions could impact the likelihood of them or their passenger dying.
“It’s the speed you are traveling at when you crash that determines your outcomes. We need people to think ‘what’s going to protect me?’,” Ms Cockfield said.
“We need to prepare Victorians to the start thinking about how they can contribute to reducing the number of people being killed.”
Ballarat Inspector Bruce Thomas said an intensive police operation nabbed more than 280 motorists for offences since December 16, and as of Tuesday 28 people had been found to be driving with a higher than prescribed blood alcohol concentration.
“This is very high and disappointing, in saying that we have administered more than 6000 preliminary breath tests over 1800 hours of patrol,” Inspector Thomas said.
He said drink driving, drug driving, speed and distraction continued to drive fatalities. “We can’t emphasize much more about the dangers of drink driving, we urge people to not drink and drive, not put loved ones at risk and not put other road users at risk.”
2016: 21; 2015: 5; 2014: 8, 2013: 13; 2012: 12; 2011: 15; 2010: 13; 2009: 8; 2008:12; 2007: 5; 2006: 13; 2005: 9; 2004: 13; 2003: 15; 2002: 11; 2001: 15; 2000: 15; 1999: 13; 1998: 17; 1997: 10; 1996: 15
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