Police will be out in force patrolling major roads and highways across the state this long weekend as the roads are expected to be at their busiest in months.
This Melbourne Cup long weekend will come after the state reaches the 80 per cent double dose vaccination milestone this week, meaning travel restrictions between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria will be lifted.
Police are anticipating the roads will be at their busiest in months as people travel to catch up with loved ones or spend the weekend in regional areas such as Ballarat or Daylesford.
Police have warned drivers the combination of increased traffic, long hours behind the wheel and a deterioration in driving skills could be a recipe for disaster.
With eleven lives lost on the state's roads when lockdown lifted last year and travel was able to resume across the state and 190 lives lost on Victorian roads so far this year -12 lives more than the number recorded at the same time last year - including a number in Ballarat, police do not want to see any further tragedies unfold.
To mitigate the risks of what could be "a perfect storm on our roads", police are urging motorists to slow down, take extra care and to think twice before getting behind the wheel after drinking.
Operation Compass will run over the long weekend and again the following weekend in an effort to target driver behaviour that could lead to serious injuries or death, with police to target speed, distraction, fatigue and impaired driving.
Ballarat Inspector, Paul Bertoncello, said all available operational police would be tasked to the operation to address the potential for complacency on the roads.
"We've had well-publicised issues with police being deployed all over the state so we haven't been as visible as we would have liked to be but with restrictions easing it means we are back around.
"If people have been taking risks thinking they will get away with it, now is the time people need to snap back into more appropriate driving behaviour."
With booze buses and mobile patrols, police will be highly visible across the region during the next two weekends beginning from when traffic emerges from Melbourne on Friday night.
"We will have a strong focus on the Western Highway initially and then the roads that lead off that into different parts of the region and further west."
During the weekends, police will shift their focus to Ballarat and surrounding towns before shifting the focus back to main arterials as weekends conclude.
"If you are traversing across the state you will definitely see a lot of police around," he said, adding police were really looking forward to returning to "business as usual" type policing after long periods of enforcing restrictions.
We are certainly aware of the fatigue of being locked down and the excitement of seeing family and getting away. Our members feel that as well, but it's about ensuring community safety while that is occurring.Inspector Paul Bertoncello
"We are certainly aware of the fatigue of being locked down and the excitement of seeing family and getting away. Our members feel that as well, but it's about ensuring community safety while that is occurring.
"Particularly in our regional areas, police are here to deliver community safety and do care about their communities. From a policing perspective there is no higher risk that occurs in our area than that on the roads."
Inspector Bertoncello urged people heading to Melbourne to be aware of the different driving conditions, including heavy traffic and driving in built-up areas, while Melburnians travelling to the regions needed to be vigilant when driving long distances, on open roads and at higher speeds.
"We are trying to support people to get back to their daily lives but people really need to be aware of their surroundings, concentrate when they are driving and take breaks.
"If you don't, you could end this 18-month period with death or serious injury to you or someone you love."
Operation Compass will run from 12:01am this Friday, October 29 until 11:59pm on Tuesday, November 2 and again the following weekend, from 12:01am Friday, November 5 until 11:59pm on Sunday, November 7.
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