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Police warn motorists of holiday road risk

Police Superintendent Paul Margetts.

Police Superintendent Paul Margetts.

By Dean Lawson
A leading Wimmera police officer has warned motorists that simply travelling in regional areas puts them at greater risk of serious injury or death from road trauma.
Wimmera superintendent Paul Margetts, in presenting a Christmas-New Year road message, said crashes in country areas usually occurred at speeds much higher than in metropolitan areas.
“It means that when people are involved in a road incident in places such as the Wimmera, they are four times more likely than metropolitan motorists to die or suffer serious injuries,” he said.
“And it is not just an issue that involves driving over the speed limit. Based on what we know, even driving at 100 kilometres presents a serious risk. So there are risks even when you might not be doing anything wrong.”
Mr Margetts said his message to motorists was to simply be aware about the overall risk they were taking when driving on a regional road.
“As soon as we get into a car and get on a country road we’re taking on a risk – that’s the reality,” he said. “The risk comes from the fact that at 100kmh we travel 27.8 metres a second. The normal human reaction time is just over two seconds, so before we even get the opportunity to react we’ve travelled almost 56 metres.
“Staying as safe as possible is really about being aware of surroundings and circumstances and understanding that there are usually many people making decisions on the road.
“It’s about being aware, awake, alert and focused and there are many elements that can be distracting, whether as an individual driver or as a driver responsible for passengers.”
Mr Margetts said motorists also needed to be mindful the Christmas and holiday period were outside normal routines.
“This means we suddenly start experiencing different time, sleep, eating and exercise patterns. With bodies working in unusual ways we can often become fatigued, even without realising,” he said.
“This in turn has the potential to interfere with usual driving habits.
“For example, you might want to get to a special Christmas or New Year’s event, which might mean extra hours on the road.
“Fair enough, but you have to ask yourself, do you have plans or alternatives that will eliminate risks of fatigue? Families no doubt would prefer to have everyone safe instead of being somewhere on time.”
Emergency services
Mr Margetts said apart from understanding the basic risks, motorists needed to also consider the impact road trauma might have on emergency services and communities.
“We all live and work in relatively small rural communities where we usually know each other. Our kids go to school together, play sport together – so there’s not only carnage that emergency services experience at the scene, but also the flow-on impact for families, friends, children and general communities,” he said.
“One incident on a highway can devastate a community forever. What we don’t want this Christmas is a church, synagogue, reception hall or mosque to host an unscheduled funeral.
“Figures show that one person killed or seriously injured on the road has, on average, an impact on 600 people. The list goes on and on. Our appeal is for people to limit the risks and fully appreciate the risks of simply travelling on country roads where speeds are generally high.
“Try to avoid travelling at dawn and dusk or at night when vision is not as good as other times. Prepare yourself for the work associated with driving – this means being fully awake, well rested and fully aware of circumstances. We don’t have an inbuilt fatigue metre but take note of the last time you last slept, had a break or stretched your legs. All you want to do is get to your destination and back home safely.”
Mr Margetts added it was essential that people always made sure their vehicles were roadworthy.
“Never go on the road without making sure your vehicle is safe. This means making sure the tyres, brakes and steering are all up to standard,” he said.
Mr Margetts said there would again be a high police presence on roads throughout the Christmas-New Year period into January school holidays.

The entire December 20, 2017 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

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Posted on Dec 20 2017

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