Thirteen people lost their lives on Shepparton roads in 2012, the most fatalities since at least 1994.By Darren Linton
Greater Shepparton has had its deadliest year on the roads for decades.
Barring any New Year’s Eve tragedy, the Shepparton police district was set to end 2012 with 13 lives lost on the roads.
Shepparton Highway Patrol Senior Sergeant Des Wright said this was the highest number of deaths since he started keeping detailed local statistics.
‘‘I’ve got statistics that go back to 1994 and this is the worst year we’ve had going back at least until then,’’ he said. ‘‘I would suggest you would have to go back to the 1970s when the road toll was out of control to find a higher toll.’’
The experienced traffic policeman said in all his years he had only ever seen one fatal crash that was completely accidental — when a tree limb fell on a passing car.
‘‘All of those (other) collisions were avoidable,’’ he said.
In 1995, the Shepparton region had 12 fatalities and there were 11 deaths in 2002, 2003 and 2007.
During recent years, the lowest road toll for the region was two in 2008.
‘‘It has been a bad year for us and we hope we don’t have any more,’’ Sen Sgt Wright said on the eve of 2013.
‘‘We’ve had a spike in the number of deaths, but I do expect there will be spikes from time to time,’’ he said.
He said highway patrol members were concerned about the number of drivers still willing to take risks on the road.
‘‘There’s an awful lot of people who do the right thing and drive sensibly, but there is a substantial percentage of people who like to take liberties,’’ he said.
Sen Sgt Wright said safe driving was about more than just obeying the road rules.
It included constant vigilance and awareness of surrounding traffic and pedestrians, and driving to the road and weather conditions.
‘‘All I would ask people to do is pay attention not just to what you are doing, but what else is happening around you,’’ he said.
Drink-driving remains a perennial problem in the region, which Sen Sgt Wright described as insidious because alcohol-affected drivers put others at risk when they drove.
Sen Sgt Wright said hoon driving, while still prevalent, had been affected by tougher laws including vehicle seizures.
‘‘There is still a bit of hoon driving going on,’’ he said.
‘‘There is a little club of these people and it is secretive cloak-and-dagger stuff with emails and texts and secret locations.’’
Police have released an image of a man they wish to speak to following an incident at SPC Ardmona in Shepparton, involving a package later found to be non-threatening.
Most people at the J C Lowe Oval left on Saturday evening talking about the game but not the result. Pigeon Coach Chris Kennedy summed up the feeling adequately when he said after the game; “it was a frustrating game, but my players weren’t responsible for the frustration.”
The move to extend the Tatura War Memorial area and honour Victoria Cross hero Robert Mactier with the erection of a statue in the Hogan St gardens named in his honour, continues.
A Kyabram man who struck a cyclist on Echuca-Moama bridge with a beer can thrown from the vehicle he was in was convicted and fined $400 in Moama Local Court on Wednesday.
A Rochester mother told a health forum about the devastating effect drugs have had on her family.
Over six hours of junior football is scheduled for Kyabram Recreation Reserve this Sunday.
Ten people were injured after Two Australian Light Armoured Vehicles (ASLAV) collided during a training course at the Puckapunyal Military Training Range in on Wednesday, May 22.
The Finley Apex Sports and Community Centre has secured a $500,000 grant from Regional Development Australia.
A purpose-built bike, equipped with amateur radio, will be on the O'Keefe Rail Trail tomorrow.
Cobram residents John Anderson and Ian Cobb will race down memory lane this weekend when they compete in the annual Historic Winton.
Deniliquin Fire and Rescue's open day has been hailed a success by captain Bill Muirhead.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) is investigating incidents of abortion or still-births under the Lamb and Kid Mortality Surveillance Project.(LKSMP).
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