VicPol Corporate

Rural death spike spurs warning on complacency

Tuesday 7 March 2023 4:55pm

Police are determined to turn around a shocking start to the year on the roads with a statewide enforcement effort to be conducted over the Labour Day long weekend.

Commencing on Friday, Victoria Police’s Operation Arid will run for four days with police targeting high-risk driving behaviour and non-compliance in an effort to reduce road trauma.

It comes as Victoria recorded 68 lives lost in the first 66 days of the year – 18 more than at the same time last year and a 45 per cent increase on the five-year average.

Police are especially concerned about a significant spike in lives lost on rural roads this year with 42 deaths since January - a 57 per cent increase on the five-year average.

Intelligence shows more than half of this year’s fatalities resulted from single-vehicle collisions, with two-thirds occuring on rural roads and 80 per cent of those involving vehicles leaving the road and colliding with a roadside object – predominately trees.

Police say the concerning trend is being overwhelmingly caused by minor forms of non-compliance, rather than extreme driving behaviour. It suggests simple mistakes behind the wheel are leading to catastrophic consequences.

Speed, distraction, fatigue and not wearing a seatbelt are major contributors to single-vehicle fatal collisions. All such behaviours will be targeted during this weekend’s Operation Arid.

March is historically the highest-risk month on Victoria’s roads with collisions in both rural and metropolitan Melbourne peaking during the month over the last five years.

In addition to long weekend travel and rural roads, police will focus enforcement efforts on major events and music festivals taking place across the state. Extensive alcohol and drug testing will be conducted to prevent impaired driving.

There were 7193 traffic offences detected across the Labour Day long weekend last year with 2987 speeding offences, 284 drink drivers, 231 drug drivers, 239 mobile phone offences and 150 seatbelt offences.

Operation Arid commences at 12:01am on Friday 10 March and concludes at 23:59pm on Monday 13 March 2022.

For more information and tips for staying safe on the roads visit the Road Safety page on the Victoria Police website.

Quotes attributable to Assistant Commissioner Road Policing, Glenn Weir:

“We know the Labour Day long weekend is a busy period for events and a popular time to travel, so we’re anticipating lots of Victorians hitting the roads over the coming days.

“We’ll be out with our full contingent of police vehicles to ensure everyone is doing their bit to keep themselves and all other road users safe.

“It’s been a shocking start to the year on our roads – particularly on our rural roads. However a lot of the trauma we’re experiencing, particularly those single-vehicle fatal collisions, is tragically avoidable.

“It’s up to all of us to turn this around and while police will be out enforcing at every opportunity, we cannot achieve this alone.

“We need everyone to play their part and that means getting back to basics behind the wheel – slow down, put down the mobile phone and pay attention to road signs, other road users and surroundings.

“March is historically a high-risk month for road trauma and we cannot afford complacency on our roads. Complacency is the true contributor to road trauma.”

Media Unit


Reviewed 07 March 2023