Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Shepparton police aim to cut road toll

Greater Shepparton police are going on a blitz this festive season to remove drink and drug affected drivers from the region's roads.

DARREN LINTON November 17, 2012 4:22am

With the road toll in Greater Shepparton already approaching a record high, police are committed to making a difference during a 52-day operation aimed at keeping people safe and alive through the festive season.

State-wide there will be four festive season operations which began yesterday. Operation RAID is aimed at detecting and removing all alcohol and drug impaired drivers from our roads.

Shepparton Highway Patrol’s Senior Sergeant Des Wright warned that mobile patrols in the region were participating in a trial of roadside drug testing.

‘‘Drink driving is a perennial problem and we will continue to focus on it, but more recently we have been able to identify a significant problem with illicit drug use,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve had a strike rate of one in 10.’’

Because of the higher cost of mobile drug-testing kits, police identify and target who is tested rather than randomly test every driver as they do with alcohol.

‘‘We have to be careful to target the right people and consequently we have a high strike rate,’’ he said.

Sen Sgt Wright said distractions and not observing basic road rules like wearing seat belts, giving way or speeding were a problem on the region’s roads.

So far this year 11 people have died on roads in the Greater Shepparton police district, as many as in any other year since Sen Sgt Wright started collating statistics.

‘‘It is probably the worst year on record since then for fatalities in Greater Shepparton and we still have the rest of November and all of December to go,’’ he said.

Road Policing Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said an onslaught of road policing operations started in Victoria yesterday and police would saturate the state’s roads, targeting drink and drug driving, driver fatigue, distraction and speeding.

He urged drivers to leave their cars at home if they knew they were going to be drinking.

‘‘We know if we can deter people from taking the risks in the first place or alternatively get them off the road before the high traffic periods, we will reduce road trauma, which is what the operation is all about — saving lives,’’ he said.

Mr Hill said the festive season was all about spending time with friends and loved ones, not losing them on the roads.

‘‘This time of year is about going on holidays and to Christmas and work break-up parties, not funerals and hospital wards,’’ he said.

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