DEATHS on Victorian rural roads are up 75 per cent on this time last year; 84 compared to 48 in 2018.
But an even more alarming statistic is that Gippsland fatalities are double what they were last year, six compared to three, with South Gippsland and Bass Coast over represented.
Last Saturday, an 83-year-old Pakenham man died on Hoddle Road, Foster when his car crashed into a barrier at about 1pm.
Yesterday, two people were airlifted to hospital after a single vehicle rollover between Kilcunda and Anderson, just a few kilometres south of where a 15-year-old Wonthaggi boy lost his life on Saturday, May 4.
Why are deaths on rural roads up? We asked Police Traffic Advisor for Eastern Region Division Five, Senior Sergeant Jason Hullick:
“We’re one of the worst areas in the state. We’re talking six fatalities, up from three this time last year but one is too many.
“We’ve increased our patrols thanks to some overtime funding by the TAC, putting a third to half more police units on the road. And we will book people for speeding, drink-driving and going through intersections without stopping. No apologies for that.
“People will slow down and drive more carefully when they see a police car but it’s not just about us being more visible. We need the community to shape up too,” he said.
“And that includes being prepared to drive to the conditions. We’re not talking about bad people speeding. This is about law-abiding people making a small mistake with huge consequences. So, if it’s wet, there’s debris, you’re driving a different car or you’re in unfamiliar territory, slow down. Distractions, inattention I don’t know. I wish I did,” said Senior Sergeant Hullick.
Two airlifted in ‘serious’ condition after rollover
TWO people were taken to hospital with serious injuries after a single-vehicle rollover between Kilcunda and Anderson yesterday.
The crash, involving a 4WD car, follows another single vehicle collision at Foster on Saturday, also involving a 4WD car in which there was a fatality.
The driver and sole occupant of the vehicle at Foster, an 83-year-old Pakenham man, died at the scene. It is believed he may have suffered from a medical condition which resulted in the crash.
There was also another fatality on the Bass Highway, at Anderson, on Saturday morning May 4.
The latest accident, which occurred at about 9.30am on Monday, May 27, at the height of a cold, wet and stormy blast of weather, happened on an exposed section of the Bass Highway, three kilometres west of Kilcunda.
The car which is believed to have been travelling south, has mounted an embankment at the side of the highway and rolled over into a paddock.
The driver of the car, a woman in her late 50s has serious injuries and was airlifted to hospital.
A male passenger, also in his late 50s, sustained serious injuries and was also airlifted to hospital.
No one else was injured during the incident and the highway remained open to traffic.
After the emergency response was complete, the car was salvaged at about 1pm.
The fatality at Foster on Saturday brought the state’s road toll to 134 lives lost, which is 52.3 per cent higher than at the corresponding time last year.
Equally worrying though, for country drivers, is that the toll on rural roads is up 75 per cent compared to this time last year 88 compared to 48 on rural roads by this time last year.
It draws a poor comparison with road deaths in metro areas as well; 84 to 35 in 2019 as against 48 to 28 in 2018.
Why are there 75 per cent more fatalities on Victorian rural roads so far this year? We put that question to regional police and are awaiting a response.
Multiple road fatalities
A man in his early twenties died after his vehicle crashed into a pole in Koo Wee Rup last Friday, May 24.
The crash occurred at around 12am on Sybella Avenue near the South Gippsland Highway.
Investigators believe the driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a pole, with the vehicle then rolling as a result of the impact.
The driver and sole occupant of the vehicle, a Heath Hill man, died at the scene.
The exact circumstances surrounding the crash are yet to be established and the investigation is ongoing.