Covert operation nabs drivers

A FIVE-month covert police operation has nabbed 178 people travelling between 10 and 20 kilometres an hour over the speed limit on the region’s back-roads.

Operation Momentum uses camouflaged police officers to detect speeding road-users and is aimed at reducing motorcycle deaths.

“When you covertly position police and monitor speed, it gives you a very accurate picture of what’s going on, it’s not influenced by police presence,” Latrobe Highway Patrol Sergeant Clint Wilson said.

Eleven people were caught travelling more than 25 kilometres over the speed limit, with the highest speed recorded at 157 km/h.

“The vehicle was impounded and the driver was charged with driving at a dangerous speed,” Sgt Wilson said.

“We were surprised about the Hyland Highway, that’s where we had the highest percentage of speeders, but after a couple of weekends there, we think the message got across.”

He said of those fined for speeding, only eight were motorcyclists.

“We were very surprised with the consistent well-behaved riders out there.” The operation is funded by the Transport Accident Commission and Latrobe Highway Patrol hopes to once again implement it next summer.

Meanwhile, traffic police were pleasantly surprised by a drink-driving operation also targeting back-roads.

Between 13 March and 28 April, in a bid to catch drink drivers who were avoiding traditional booze bus locations, the Highway Patrol set up a bus and satellite cars at peak detection times.

“We decided to target areas where we thought drivers would drive if they didn’t want to get caught,” Sgt Wilson said.

Of the 7285 people tested, nine were over 0.05 blood alcohol concentration.

Sgt Wilson said while police had expected to detect a higher number of drink drivers, the figures still indicated a level of poor judgement among Latrobe Valley motorists.

“We still have people deciding they’re okay to drive when they’re not,” he said.

“You have to be aware of your alcohol concentration and if you plan to have a few drinks, make prior arrangements to get home another way.”