Latrobe Valley road fatalities down

THE Latrobe Valley has seen a 75 per cent reduction in road fatalities, with two local deaths in the 12 months to August this year.

This compared with eight deaths the previous year and eight in 2012.

Latrobe Highway Patrol Acting Sergeant Grant Phillips said it was difficult to attribute the significant reduction to any one factor, but believed it was a combination of police enforcement and public vigilance.

“It’s the hard work from the public being aware of their responsibilities and people taking extra care,” Act Sgt Phillips said.

“Our office is out there every day patrolling both major roads and back roads.

“But we can’t do it on our own by enforcement, it’s about the public and how they’re changing behaviours and attitudes on the roads.”

According to the Transport Accident Commission statistics released on Monday, Latrobe’s five-year fatality average is six.

There has been one road death since August, bringing the region’s calendar year total to three.

The TAC report also highlighted a reduction in Latrobe’s serious injury collisions, with a 31 per cent decrease in claims involving acute hospitalisation for more than 12 days.

There were nine in the 12 months to February 2014, compared with 13 the previous year.

Act Sgt Phillips said local police would continue their concerted effort to reduce fatal crashes and serious injuries into the warmer months.

Latrobe Highway Patrol announced in July it would run a 12-month pilot project to enhance investigation into serious injury collisions by looking at the safety of drivers, vehicles, roads and speeds and sharing the information with VicRoads and local council engineers.

It recently ramped up efforts to combat drink and drug driving with funding from the TAC to station members in satellite vehicles to catch people who try to avoid a booze bus; along with an increased capacity to test drivers for drugs.

“We want people to be there at the dinner table this Christmas with their families,” Act Sgt Phillips said.