Highway Patrol units across the Goulburn Valley are stationed at Shepparton, Benalla, Mansfield, Seymour and Wallan.
This area has large volumes of traffic.
It is close to Melbourne and includes a part of the Hume Fwy.
It also has major arterials such as the Goulburn Valley, Midland, Maroondah and Melba highways.
Other major traffic routes which feed into the Goulburn Valley include the Newell and Murray Valley highways.
These carry heavy vehicles, light vehicles, motorcycles and cyclists.
Added to this, we have the popular tourist destination like Mt Buller and Lake Mountain snow fields.
Highway patrol work is focused on the reduction of road trauma in the community.
From day to day, highway patrol police will use many methods to enforce road legislation.
This includes the use of speed detection devices, radar and laser, enforcement of fatigue management compliance by heavy vehicles, impounding vehicles under the hoon legislation and testing drivers to detect alcohol or drugs.
Also used is specifically designed enforcement equipment such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition, a camera device fitted to specific police cars and vans.
In a split second, it can read the registration plate of another vehicle and indicate to the police if there is a licensing, registration or other issue requiring attention.
ANPR vehicles are often used throughout the Goulburn Valley.
Highway patrol often attracts a lot of attention from interested members of the public and other police regarding some of the equipment used.
The attention is usually towards the vehicles used by the highway patrol at the time.
Primarily, these vehicles are Holden Commodore SS or Ford Falcon XRs.
Historically, these vehicles have been complemented by other special order vehicles such as Saab, Subaru WRX, HSV Monaro and Chrysler.
In more recent times, a Mercedes AMG (Guardian V2) has been in the local area. The Guardian V2 is soon to be deployed to the Mansfield area and later in Benalla for highway patrol work.
Along with the enforcement comes an education and prevention focus for road trauma.
Shepparton police had involvement in the creation of the Cool Heads program, a young driver program aimed at curbing risk-taking behaviour of drivers by changing their attitude towards driving.
The program includes guest speakers such as victims and families of road trauma who have been injured or have lost loved ones.
Stories from magistrates, nurses, emergency services and, more recently, two prisoners who had been jailed as their driving resulted in serious injuries and loss of life.
If you have not been to one of these presentations, I highly recommend it.
It is hard not to be moved by the stories and I guarantee you will go away from it thinking about your own driver behaviour.
Highway patrol and local police within the Goulburn Valley conduct operation orders to address any identified or emerging risks.
These happen weekly and require planning and commitment by all involved. The nature of the operations can include working all hours of the day or night and in all climates and weather conditions.
The operation orders at times impact on police members and their families and can result in missing out on family birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions, such is their commitment to road safety in their local area.
We also have involvement in statewide road policing operations. These are the ones you most likely have read about in the paper or have seen advertised on television.
Operations such as Roadwise (Christmas and New Year), Operation Amity (Australia Day weekend), Operation Arid (Labour Day weekend), Operation Nexus (Anzac Day and Easter 2017) and Operation Regal (Queen’s Birthday long weekend).
These statewide operations require commitment from all areas of Victoria Police and often see the increase on policing within the Goulburn Valley from state highway patrol, heavy vehicle units, special solo units and road policing, drug and alcohol section booze and drug buses.
In the lead-up to these operations, individual highway patrol units commit resourcing to make sure Victoria Police can make the best attempt at making your journey safe on our roads at this time.
Highway patrol, along with Victoria Police as a whole, is supported by many community and government stakeholders in an effort to reduce road trauma.
These are the people working in the background to reduce road trauma, to address identified safety issues or to review locations of serious collisions for prevention.
Some of these people are volunteers that dedicate a large portion of their time to this cause and have done so for many years.
Along with these stakeholders, we also have other emergency services that work alongside highway patrol at collisions.
They include CFA, Shepparton Search and Rescue and SES volunteers.
They are the people who stand alongside police at collisions and help the victims of road trauma.
Sadly, we still experience unnecessary road trauma.
The impact of road trauma affects more than those involved in the actual collision.
Road trauma has a ripple effect and we need to remember that behind each victim of road trauma there is a life not lived.
Family, friends, emergency responders attending and many other people in our community are all affected.
No one escapes road trauma.
The impact and grief experienced by families of those injured or tragically killed can never be fully comprehended.
At the time of writing this, we have lost 17 of our family, friends and colleagues to collisions within the Goulburn Valley.
Keeping safe on our roads is not just any one person or authorities responsibility.
The responsibility lies with every single person in our community.
To the drivers of vehicles behaving inappropriately you need to stop, to the passengers in these vehicles — say something.
To witnesses of poor driver behaviour — say something, do something and report it.
The main causes of road trauma are: drug and alcohol driving, speed, distraction, failing to be properly restrained and fatigue.
These are all preventable behaviours and do not need to happen. Yet, police continue to see drivers offending in this way.
Despite the commitment of those involved with road safety, some people still do not heed the message.
Plan your drive, do not rush, be patient, put your seatbelt on, place the mobile phone in the glove box and, most of all, be safe on our roads.
You owe it to yourselves, your friends, family and the community.
The consequences of not doing this are permanent.
The next Cool Heads is at Shepparton’s Eastbank Centre tomorrow, from 6.30pm.
Road Trauma Support Services Victoria can be contacted on 1300367797.