Drink and drugs have been the major focus of a statewide police operation targeting country areas over the long weekend.
It comes as a 26-year-old Mount Pleasant man is lucky to be alive after crashing his car in Warrenheip shortly after being detected allegedly driving at 157km/h in a 100km/h zone at about 2pm on Sunday.
The man, the only person involved in the accident, was taken to Ballarat Base Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
But for the State Commander of Highway Patrol, Inspector John Cormack, it was a stark reminder of why police are out in force.
“Fortunately the injuries were not life threatening, but here we have a son, a brother, he’s got a grandmother, a grandfather, it’s just beyond the selfishness of the one person, it’s about who it affects as well,” Inspector Cormack said.
“If you’re not going to separate drinking, and drug taking, with driving then my team are going to be right behind you and we’re going to go pretty hard at you.”Inspector John Cormack
Inspector Cormack said Operation Arid saw the State Highway Patrol focus in on areas including Ballarat, Bendigo and coastal centres.
“We travel the state and target behaviour like low level speeding, drink and drug driving, people not wearing their seatbelt,” he said.
“The one we don’t talk about enough in the country is distraction. People are driving these roads for long periods, and they hit the shoulder. What are the reasons for that? Are they mucking around with the music or are they on their phone?
“These are the things we want people to focus on, get off that device, focus ahead and if you need to, take a break.”
Inspector Cormack said drink and drugs were a major problem in country centres.
“We’ve been working extensively out of Ballarat and Bendigo the last few weekend as part of an operation funded through the TAC,” he said.
“This is because we know country locations have a higher rate of impaired driving, particularly drug driving, and we’ll continue to target that.
“If you’re not going to separate drinking, and drug taking, with driving then my team are going to be right behind you and we’re going to go pretty hard at you.”