Police from Melbourne and Geelong have been called in to reinforce the efforts of Shepparton police in stopping people dying on the region's roads.By Kaitlin Thals
Shepparton Highway Patrol members have called in reinforcements to stop people dying on the region’s roads.
Police will target speeding, fatigue, alcohol and drug-affected and distracted drivers on major and minor roads, in and out of town, during rolling operations starting this week.
The operation comes in response to last year’s spike in fatalities and 10 extra police from Melbourne and Geelong have been called in to stop the deaths.
‘‘We’ve got marked cars and unmarked cars, so any car beside you could be a police car,’’ State Highway Patrol Senior Sergeant Ken Scott said.
‘‘We’ll be taking no hostages here, if you’re doing the wrong thing, you will be booked.’’
Last year, 12 people died in the Greater Shepparton Police Service Area.
This year’s road toll stands at two, after one man died and another was airlifted to a Melbourne hospital in a two-car crash at Harston on Tuesday evening.
A fatal crash on the same day near Katamatite was outside the Greater Shepparton policing area.
‘‘We want everyone to be accountable for the terrible year we had last year,’’ Shepparton Highway Patrol Sergeant Jeffrey Kyne said.
‘‘Hopefully everyone can adjust their driving behaviour and take more care, because we don’t want another 12 families suffering like the families who are suffering from last year’s road toll.
‘‘We had the Ready2Drive program yesterday (Tuesday) with Year 12 students from the region, the message we pumped out there to them was stop signs, give-way signs and complacency on rural roads.
‘‘That was at midday. Six hours later we have a 64-year-old go through a give-way sign at Harston and is no longer with us.’’
Sen Sgt Scott said 10 State Highway Patrol members from Melbourne and Geelong had arrived at Shepparton to support local police, who would be working all hours, every day of the week.
He said country roads would be targeted because that was where most of the serious road collisions occurred.
‘‘The back roads are where you find local people having crashes, and that’s why we’re coming in big numbers — so we can cover the whole area,’’ he said.
‘‘We have the ability to do drug testing, so we’ll be doing a lot of drug testing, particularly at night time.’’
Sen Sgt Scott said Shepparton was a large area with a lot of country roads and a large transport community, so traditionally there were many collisions.
‘‘We’re here because you’ve had a big spike in serious collisions — and we’re here to stop that, simple as that,’’ he said.
Sgt Kyne said the Transport Accident Commission funded these operations on an as-needs basis when there was an increase in road trauma.
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