With COVID-19 restrictions easing ahead of this weekend's Queen's Birthday long weekend, Shepparton police are gearing up to see an influx of traffic on local roads.
Shepparton Highway Patrol members are primed and ready to target drivers doing the wrong thing across the weekend, with support coming to town from the State Highway Patrol, Special Solo Unit and Road Policing Command.
Operation Regal, a statewide road policing operation, kicked off this morning and runs until midnight on Monday, with police focusing on the fatal five of road trauma: speeding, drink and drug drivers, fatigue, driver distraction and people not wearing seatbelts.
During last year's Queen's Birthday long weekend five people were seriously injured in collisions across the Eastern Region Division 3 police area, which covers Shepparton and Benalla all the way through to Mount Buller and Mount Stirling.
Eastern Region Division 3 Highway Patrol Senior Sergeant David Gillespie said he hoped this year's results would be more positive.
“We are going to have an increase in traffic flow through the Goulburn valley, particularly given the last few months there has been a number of restrictions limiting people's travel and movements, so we're anticipating with the slight easing of those restrictions that traffic flow will be higher than normal,” he said.
“Because of this we ask people to be patient on the roads to ensure they enjoy visiting the Goulburn Valley.
“We ask them to plan their trips, stop and go into cafes and support the local businesses and swap drivers regularly to ensure you're not getting issues in relation to fatigue.”
Wither winter now upon us Sen Sgt Gillespie reminded drivers to check their headlights before setting off on their journey, and to make sure they were swtiched on and could be seen at all times when driving.
Shepparton Highway Patrol members have seen an increase in drug-driving and drink-driving-related offences and high speed detections during the past couple of months — a result which Sen Sgt Gillespie described as extremely disappointing.
“There will be zero tolerance in relation to any risk-taking behaviour on our roads. If people take risks they can expect to be dealt with,” he said.
“If they observe other people undertaking risk-taking type of behaviour making it unsafe for other road users, they can call 000 or call Crime Stoppers.
“We also ask that people be mindful of the 40 km/h rule when passing police and emergency services with flashing red and blue lights on the roadside — there will be a lot of police working the roads.”
Sen Sgt Gillespie said the message from police this long weekend was clear: If you drive with an illegal substance in your system or undertake dangerous behaviour on our roads you can expect to be caught and dealt with.
“What I ask is that people play it safe, get to the end of this long weekend and look forward to planning next year's Queen's Birthday long weekend back up in the Goulburn Valley.”