Drivers in good hands at the end of long weekend

By Ashlea Witoslawski

Greeting drivers with a smile, a hot mug of tea or coffee and tasty treat, Murchison State Emergency Service volunteers were determined to make sure drivers returned home safely from the Easter long weekend.

Set up at Wahring truck stop on the Hume Hwy, the SES members manned the van from 8am to 8pm.

Victoria SES Murchison unit controller Andrew Gell said the day was a huge success, encouraging holiday makers of all kinds to take a break.

‘‘It’s been a very busy day and we’ve had drivers of all ages pulling in today,’’ he said.

‘‘It gives people a good opportunity to take a break and stretch their legs.’’

Mr Gell said many of the drivers who pulled in were travelling from north, back home towards Melbourne.

He said Murchison SES had been involved in the Driver Reviver program for more than 25 years.

‘‘We’ve had a lot of appreciation from people today and we enjoy helping out,’’ he said.

Volunteers ran 27 Toll Driver Reviver sites across Victoria between Good Friday and yesterday.

According to SES statistics, volunteers across Australia have served more than 23million cups of Bushells tea and coffee and 27million Arnotts biscuits to drivers since the program started more than 30 years ago.

As the largest road rescue provider in Victoria, Vic SES was cautious about the effects fatigue had on drivers.

‘‘Fatigue is one of the biggest killers on our roads,’’ Mr Gell said.

Vic SES chief operations officer Tim Wiebusch said it was important for all drivers and their passengers to get home safely on the long weekend.

‘‘Easter is a busy period on our roads,’’ he said.

‘‘We would much rather serve you a cup of tea, than cut you out of a car.’’

Supporting the program, Toll managing director Michael Byrne said everyone had the right to get home safely.

‘‘As road users, it’s vital that we are situationally aware so that we can respond to changes in our surroundings,’’ he said.

‘‘We also need to be self-aware, such as recognising when we need a break from driving.”

Other SES units taking part in the program this year included Benalla, Euroa and Numurkah.