Speeding accounted for more than a third of offences detected during Victoria Police’s 12-day operation on the roads this Christmas with drug driving and illegal phone use also causing concern.
Speed, impaired driving and distraction were the major focus of Operation Roadwise, which concluded at 11.59pm on 27 December.
Victoria Police’s road safety efforts now turn to holiday hotspots with the increased presence to continue right through into the New Year.
A total 4803 speeding offences were recorded during Operation Roadwise, with 3753 of these motorists travelling 10km/h-25km/h over the speed limit. The figure is extremely concerning for police because research shows travelling at such speeds increases the risk of a collision causing serious injury or worse by more than 40 per cent.
There were 511 drink driving detections from 201,091 preliminary breath tests, a strike rate of one in 394. This is an improvement on last year’s operation when one in every 270 motorists tested returned an illegal blood alcohol reading but still worse than before the pandemic when the strike rate was around one in 450 tests.
Alarmingly 375 drug driving detections were recorded from 5122 roadside tests, a strike rate of one in 14. This figure reflects the targeted nature of drug testing however shows increased prevalence of drugs on the roads compared with last year when there was one detection for every 17 tests.
The total 13,578 traffic offences detected during Operation Roadwise also included:
• 783 mobile phone offences;
• 372 seat belt offences;
• 469 disqualified or suspended drivers;
• 552 unlicensed drivers;
• 1442 unregistered vehicles;
• 665 disobey signs or signals; and
• 301 vehicle impounds.
Victoria Police analysis shows daily offence detections were up 13.9 per cent compared with last year’s Roadwise operation, which ran across 10 days.
The number of drivers illegally using their phone compared with 536 offences across Operation Roadwise last year. Using a phone while driving increases the risk of a collision tenfold. It attracts a $555 fine and four demerit points.
Automatic numberplate recognition technology, fitted to all Highway Patrol cars and other selected police vehicles, helped boost detection of unauthorised drivers. An average 85 disqualified, suspended or unlicensed drivers were caught a day compared with 76 a day during last year’s operation.
There were 449 traffic infringements issued to motorcycle riders, up almost 50 per cent compared with last year’s Roadwise. The safety of motorcyclists has been a focus for police, with 56 deaths recorded this year compared with 41 at the same time last year and a five-year average of 38 fatalities.
Operation Roadwise ran from 12:01am on Friday 16 December to 11:59pm on Tuesday 27 December.
Seven deaths were recorded across the operation compared with nine fatalities over the same period last year.
Police are warning motorists not to become complacent heading into the New Year period with our road policing specialists sharpening their focus on impaired driving and increased traffic movement into key holiday locations.
The State Highway Patrol, Heavy Vehicle Unit and Victoria Police’s alcohol and drug testing vehicle fleet will all be out in force.
For more information and tips for staying safe on the roads visit the Road Safety page on the Victoria Police website.
Quotes attributable to Acting Assistant Commissioner Road Policing, Justin Goldsmith:
“The level of speeding detected across this busy period is simply unacceptable.
“The fact such a large proportion of these drivers were at least 10km/h over the limit shows this isn’t just an inadvertent mistake.
“It’s a deliberate, conscious decision, and one that dramatically increases the likelihood of road trauma.
“Of some encouragement is the correction we’ve started to see in alcohol detections off the back of some really troubling impairment figures during the pandemic.
“We’ll continue to strongly enforce in this area, as well as clamping down on drug drivers whose behaviour contributes enormous harm and heartache.
“As we head into the New Year, we’re appealing to drivers to reflect on their habits behind the wheel and use this period as an opportunity to really reset and commit to doing all they can to improve safety not only for themselves but all road users.
“We’ll continue doing all we can, so expect to see police out on the roads and in particular those holiday hotspots where we know so many people have chosen to enjoy this summer period.”