Victoria Police has launched its Summer Stay road enforcement campaign to keep you safe on the roads.By Meg Pigram
If you were thinking of drink-driving this summer, take Benalla Highway Patrol Sergeant Darren Wittingslow’s word very seriously.
This comes just days after Victoria Police kicked off its Summer Stay road enforcement campaign across the state. The highly visible campaign will branch off into four different operations, including Operation RAID (Remove All Impaired Drivers) which is a cross-border campaign with NSW and South Australian police. The operation came into effect last Friday and will run until December 9, followed by Operation Break Up which will focus on high risk pre-Christmas factors including drink and drug driving, speed, fatigue and other driver distractions.
Sgt Wittingslow said during the next eight weeks police — highway patrol and general duties — would saturate the region’s biggest roads from the Freeway to the Midland Highway and out as far as the Goulburn Valley Highway, focusing on speed, fatigue, alcohol and restraint offences.
‘‘Highway patrol officers will be working staggered shifts through the night and will cover the Hume Fwy, the Midland Hwy and all roads in between,’’ he said.
‘‘All available highway patrol and general duties police will be conducting traffic tasks throughout their shifts.’’
And that’s just the beginning.
‘‘We will dramatically be upping our random breath testing as well.’’
This means all police vehicles can, at any time, stop drivers and test them for alcohol and drugs.
‘‘We will target speed and fatigue, as we know they are a major cause of road trauma,’’ Sgt Wittingslow said.
But don’t think Sgt Wittingslow and his crew want you to miss out on Christmas and New Year festivities.
‘‘By all means have a good time, but if you plan to drink, then plan ahead, have a designated driver or find an alternative way home,’’ he said.
Sgt Wittingslow’s warnings come after a horror year on Victorian roads, in which 34 people died in October alone — the most in any month since March 2011.
The current Victorian road tolls stands at 251 — a four per cent increase on last year.
Sgt Wittingslow’s claims have been reinforced by Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill, who said this time of year was about going on holidays.
‘‘We’ll be using Automatic Number Plate Recognition, drug and booze buses, mobile speed cameras, marked and unmarked police cars and motorbikes, so there’ll be nowhere to hide if you shouldn’t be on the road,” he said.
‘‘If you have a long drive ahead or know you’ll be travelling on unfamiliar roads, plan the best route, take regular breaks and avoid distractions behind the wheel,’’ Asst Comm Hill said.
Sgt Wittingslow agrees.
‘‘Take regular breaks and eat healthily on the go.’’
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