Patrolling police members across the region will be focused on driving down road trauma during the next couple of weeks, with rising police concerns about the increase in collisions as restrictions continue to ease.
While police usually run two separate road policing operations around this time of year - Operation Scoreboard to coincide with the AFL Grand Final and Operation Furlong with the Melbourne Cup - this year they have combined the two into a two-and-a-half-week operation.
With more traffic on the roads and police expecting that many regional Victorians will be travelling longer distances to get away for the long weekend, police are concerned that the spike in trauma will continue.
The road fatality at Trawalla on Wednesday morning was an "absolutely tragic" incident to occur in the lead up to Operation Saturn, Highway Patrol Senior Sergeant, Stuart Gale, said.
The death of the 59-year-old Creswick man was the latest incident in a tragic few weeks on the region's roads, which has seen emergency services rush to both fatal and serious injury collisions.
Senior Sergeant Gale said the trend was very concerning for him but that it was more than a police enforcement issue - with most of the collisions avoidable and involving driver error.
"I had been concerned that with restrictions easing, people would die on our roads so this is worrying for me," he said.
I just implore people to take care on the road and to drive responsiblySenior Sergeant Stuart Gale
"I just implore people to take care on the road and to drive responsibly."
The operation will involve all police units on the road targeting speed, fatigue, seatbelt compliance and distraction.
There will also be a focus on drug and alcohol impairment.
Police understand there has been increased alcohol consumption across the community during the pandemic, and are concerned about the impact this might have - especially as there is typically an increase in drink and drug drivers during Grand Final weekend and the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
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Senior Sergeant Gale said all patrolling vehicles would be conducting drug and alcohol testing, including members from eight and 16-hour stations in more rural areas of the region, so people could expect to be tested anywhere and at any time.
"Every police vehicle is a random breath testing station," he said.
IN OTHER NEWS
Meanwhile, while police are continuing to operate the checkpoint on the Western Freeway just outside Bacchus Marsh, they will increase their presence near the border with Melbourne during the operation - in what could be the last few weeks of the strict lockdown.
Police will be setting up random checkpoints around the region to intercept any Melburnians looking to travel to western Victoria.
And with police aware that some Melburnians are trying to use back roads to travel to regional Victoria, there will be an increase in random patrols in these areas too.
Operation Saturn will run from 12.01am on Thursday, October 22 until 11.59pm on Sunday, November 8.