Fatalities on Latrobe Valley roads this year have already equalled the total tally for 2015, and we’re not even a month in.
Two people have died from road trauma in 2017, on the back of five fatalities in 2016, prompting a plea from Latrobe Highway Patrol for increased caution behind the wheel.
Acting Senior Sergeant Jason Hullick, currently acting traffic advisor for the Gippsland region, said police were working to prevent any more lives being lost on our roads.
However he said it was a personal responsibility for every driver to be vigilant.
“Driving a car inherently is dangerous. The numbers tell us, and the injuries and fatalities tell us, it’s a dangerous activity,” Act Snr Sgt Hullick said.
“When people are driving a vehicle – it could be one of the most dangerous activities you do for the rest of your life, therefore you should give it your full attention.
“People need to take their time, drive safely, be courteous and allow some extra time (for journeys).”
On Tuesday, an 80 year-old woman died after her vehicle and a truck collided in Newborough.
The investigation is ongoing, but Act Snr Sgt Hullick said the early indication was a minor error was the catalyst for major consequences.
“Similar to a lot of other fatalities we’ve had, it’s a mistake someone’s made, a purely innocent mistake,” he said.
“No-one deserves to die on the road and a lot of times people are dying on the road because they make a very small mistake.”
Act Snr Sgt Hullick said the woman’s family had indicated she was sprightly, aware and they didn’t have concerns about her driving.
However he said it was important people were conscious their ability to drive was likely to deteriorate with age.
“As you start to age (however), your reaction times and your awareness does diminish. Family members need to have that hard conversation with the older members of their family and make sure they can drive or maybe limit their driving,” he said.
“It’s a hard thing because elderly people love their independence, that’s fine, I’m not saying don’t drive, but certainly that conversation needs to be had at some stage.”
Hoon driving is another area being targeted by police to reduce risk on our roads.
Reports of hoon behaviour around Torres Street and the Haunted Hills areas in Newborough and Yallourn have residents and authorities concerned.
Snr Sgt Hullick said information from the public was key to helping catch culprits and help maintain safety.
Times and dates of activity, where it occurred and registration numbers are all important pieces of the puzzle.
“It (hoon driving) is certainly something that will continue, but we will do what we can to crack down on it,” he said.
“While we might not be able to eradicate it completely, when we impound someone’s vehicle it is quite satisfying for the police members; they certainly enjoy doing that and it does send a message.
“We find too once their vehicle is impounded the recidivism rate does drop off.”
Reporting of information can be done anonymously by phoning Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or by filing a confidential report at www.crimestoppers.com.au
Police have asked anyone who may have witnessed the Newborough collision to phone the Latrobe HWP on 5128 1100.