By Jackson Russell –
Victoria Police’s new assistant commissioner for road policing has urged country drivers to be more careful on country roads.
Assistant commissioner Libby Murphy has spent a lot of time
on Mitchell Shire roads during her career.
Visiting Seymour last week, where she was once a police inspector, Ms Murphy said she was concerned there was a belief that it wasn’t country people dying on country roads.
“Three-quarters of the people that died on rural roads last year were actually pretty close to home and in rural areas so that’s a real concern for us,” she said.
“It’s indicative that country people aren’t driving to the conditions that are required on country roads.
“There seems to be this misnomer about it being people who are on holidays and people who are traveling into our rural communities.
“It’s not. It’s your community, it’s your people, it’s the people you play football with and the people you play netball with.”
Victoria Police have asked drivers to be aware of the ‘fatal five’ factors in major road accidents – speed, impairment, distraction, fatigue and seatbelts.
Ms Murphy said some drivers in rural areas became ‘automatons’ and weren’t focused on the task of driving.
“Just because something is sign posted at 100km/h, doesn’t mean you have to do 100km/h,” she said.
“You need to be aware of your surroundings, what road conditions are like, whether its dusk and there’s likely to be wildlife on the roads which is often quite dangerous for road users.”
The timing of the push for safer driving comes as February 2019 was the worst month of last year for road fatalities, with 33 deaths on Victorian roads – a number police do not want to see a repeat of in 2020.
“We haven’t started well this year and, for me, that’s really disappointing,” Asst Comm Murphy said.
“We’re sitting at, to date, 25 people who died at our roads. Five cars full of people.
“It’s not just a number, these are actual people and they’re people who are impacted. I think that’s the bit that we forget.”
Roadsafe Goulburn Valley chair Des Callaghan said the organisation educated drivers on driving on country roads.
“We are very proactive, we work in with Victoria Police, VicRoads, local government, community and our major role is to educate,” he said.
“Drive to the conditions of the road, look at the speed limits and you don’t have to get there right away. If you’re fatigued, pull over and have a rest – just get there.”
Mr Callaghan said it was great to have someone who knows about rural roads in charge of road policing.
“I think she’ll have a big influence as far as assisting with road policing with safety and the road toll because she knows the area,” he said.