A road to less injuries

A PILOT project to help reduce serious injuries from car crashes has been developed by Latrobe Highway Patrol.

Sergeant Clint Wilson said the newly-launched program would enhance serious injury collision investigations, changing the way police looked at crashes and the information they passed on to partner authorities.

“We’re going to look at what (Victoria Police) call the four pillars of the safe system: safer drivers, safer vehicles, safer roads and safer speeds,” Sgt Wilson said.

“The theory is that the road environment should be such, and the vehicle that you drive should be such, and that if you do make a mistake as a compliant driver – so a driver who is staying within the speed limit… the road environment and the vehicle should protect you from serious injury or death.”

Sgt Wilson said this approach ensured police not only looked for ways driver error caused a crash, but ways the road environment or vehicle contributed to the serious injury.

“For example, someone has lost control of their car, they’ve run off the road and hit a tree which is fairly close to the road,” Sgt Wilson said.

Sgt Wilson said following collisions, patrol members would look at these factors, create a report and share the information gathered immediately with VicRoads and local council engineers.

“We give some fairly informative opinions to the engineers, who can have a look at the situation and it may be a quick fix; it may be putting a warning sign up, it may be putting a barrier in place, but, big picture, that road may need some fairly serious infrastructure changes,” Sgt Wilson said.

Sgt Wilson said previously the information provided to VicRoads was often too brief, making it difficult for the authority to make a case for funding to improve the road and prevent further serious injury collisions.

“This provides the shires and VicRoads with enough information to be able to be successful in tendering for the funds to make our roads safer,” he said.

Sgt Wilson said police would also share information about how the vehicle performed in the crash with the Department of Infrastructure, which was responsible for recalling unsafe vehicles.

He said the department may set up a national reporting system for police, pending the results of the trial.

The trial will continue in Latrobe, Bass Coast and Baw Baw patrol regions for 12 months, with regular reviews, and if successful may be rolled out state-wide.

“What I have been told by Road Policing Command… they’re having a good look at what we do with a view at adapting what we do on a state level,” Sgt Wilson said.

He said there was “no doubt” the program would prevent further serious injuries from crashes.

“The more we can do to make our roads a safer place, from a police perspective, the better off we’ll be because if we don’t identify it initially, it could take some time before it’s identified,” Sgt Wilson said.

“Rather than wait for serious injuries to occur in the future, as they occur now, let’s do something about it immediately.”