Police raise profile to tackle road toll

Bryce Eishold

Latrobe Valley road users can expect to see a higher police presence in the coming months following a spate of serious-injury collisions across the region.

Officers from State Highway Patrol and Latrobe Highway Patrol were in Newborough on Friday afternoon as part of a crack down on dangerous driving.

Superintendent Mick West said police would target dangerous driving and focus on motorcyclists following a number of serious-injury and fatal collisions.

In the past five years, more than 1000 people have been injured in motorcycle incidents throughout Gippsland, while 18 people have been killed after a collision involving a motorcycle.

Data released by VicRoads shows 400 of those people suffered life-changing injuries, including 40 of those who live in the Latrobe Valley.

The warning follows two major collisions involving motorcycles on Latrobe Valley roads, including a 57-year-old Drouin man who died at Mirboo North last month.

“There’s obviously some disturbing road trends throughout Victoria … so in this part of beautiful Gippsland we’re calling on some great support from [State Highway Patrol] in Melbourne to spend some time on ours roads,” Superintendent West said.

“We haven’t been untouched here. We’ve had a number of fatalities. [We’re concerned] we’ve had a number of motorcycle fatalities in our area and hence we have our motorcycle police here today and over the next few months.”

As of last week, 17 motorcyclists had died in collisions across Victoria since the start of the year.

Superintendent West said he had received a “strong commitment” from State Highway Patrol who would increase their presence in the region during the autumn period.

“That’s a real boost for our local traffic police and general duties,” Superintendent West said.

“There will be a lot higher visible police presence and there might be some covert police as well. So just because you don’t see a police car, don’t be surprised if you get pulled over because there could be covert vehicles up here.”

Police will target erratic driving as well as drug and drink driving in conjunction with issuing warnings and advice to motorcycle riders.

It comes as the state government last week announced it would allocate $1 million through the Motorcycle Safety Levy to introduce a range of safety, educational and rider mobility initiatives.