Slow going: Bellarine police help to drive down the road toll

May 28, 2020 BY

A targeted operation by Bellarine police, Operation Backroads, has seen a drastic reduction in road trauma on country roads throughout the region. Seen here are Constable Jessica Lock, Leading Constable Jedd Joseph, Sergeant Tim Bennett and Constable Rick Poltridge. Photo: MICHAEL CHAMBERS

LOCAL police intel from the Bellarine Peninsula has shown serious road accidents and injuries have been reduced in the region by about half over a 12-month period.
Sergeant Shane Connolly said anecdotal data collected from March 2019 to March 2020 showed a drastic road trauma reduction – particularly on Bellarine country roads – in part due to Operation Backroads.
“We’ve been working pretty heavily over the past 12 months targeting the country roads,” Sgt Connolly said.
“The road trauma reduction we believe is reflection of a targeted effort to increase our presence and visibility on country roads, particularly between smaller towns throughout the Bellarine.
“Our boss Senior Sergeant Adrian Bickley looked at where road harm in the region had spiked (fatalities, serious injuries and road accidents) and said ‘We’re going to change it’.”
Sgt Connolly said after analysing accidents, the major commonality was speed. As a result, all officers undertook radar training and increased their presence on the roads.
Bellarine police received assistance from the Geelong highway patrol, who had members working out of the Portarlington police station, according to Sgt Connolly.
“We’ve been fortunate in traffic that we’ve been able to get more traffic units out there. Our high visibility and police presence was successful over the summer months,” he said.
“All our traffic penalty notices are up, which has had a direct result in serious traffic accidents being down; that’s a really good statistic.”
Several road safety infrastructure projects throughout the region were completed during the timeframe, including flexible safety barrier installed between Christies Road, Leopold and Grubb Road, Wallington.
Regional Roads Victoria (RRV) said the barriers, reduce the risk of being killed or seriously injured in head-on and run-off-road crashes by reducing the impact to the human body, allowing the vehicle to come to a gradual standstill.
RRV Safe System Road Infrastructure Program director Scott Lawrence said the installation was part of a statewide program to install flexible barriers on high-speed, high-volume roads across regional Victoria.
“We delivered safety upgrades on the Bellarine Highway after it was identified as having a high risk of deaths and serious injuries occurring through head-on and run-off-road crashes.
“With works completed in December, the new flexible safety barriers have made the road safer for the thousands of people who travel along it each day.”
Transport Accident Commission lead director Road Safety Michael Nieuwesteeg said the reduction was encouraging.
“It is heartening that local police have reported a reduction in road trauma in the Bellarine region. We encourage everyone using our roads to take extra care and look out for each other.
“Our road safety infrastructure projects – like the Bellarine Highway upgrade – are making our road network more forgiving when mistakes do occur.”
A spokesperson for Victoria Police said the new data and statistics would be released officially by the Crime Statistics Agency in June. For now, Sgt Connolly believes the numbers mean the message is getting out there.
“Respect the roads, they’re dangerous. Respect the law, road trauma accidents have a devastating impact on families and the community.
“That’s the first time a reduction that big has come through, it’s phenomenal and it shows people are responding.”

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