Bendigo’s police region has the highest number of people killed on roads in Victoria.
Victoria’s top traffic cop, Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing Robert Hill, delivered the sobering statistic during a visit to Bendigo police station yesterday to talk about road policing issues.
“This particular area is matched by no other in terms of road fatalities,” the assistant commissioner said.
“At this point of time, across Victoria, the Bendigo division has the highest number of people killed on their roads – that’s compared to any other area across Victoria police.
“The road trauma, similarly, is significantly high.
“So I’m concerned, as a senior officer in this organisation, with what can we do to reduce this trauma across our society.
“I understand that the majority of these people are people that are driving motorcars on country roads – the causal factors being speed, alcohol or driver distraction.
“They’re all local people, so local people are being killed on our roads and there’s an over representation of the 18 to 25 group.”
Mr Hill said Australia needed to “take a long, hard look at our drinking culture”.
He is in favour of dropping the .05 blood alcohol limit to .02 and wants everyone to play a part in reducing the shocking road toll.
Mr Hill said community discussion about alcohol thresholds was needed.
“The fact is that .05 was introduced in this state some time ago and I think we need to re-look at that,” he said.
“Alcohol is a drug, it is a central nervous system depressant.
“It impacts on your ability to concentrate, to focus, to judge distance and reaction times.
“No matter what the level of alcohol in your system it will have an impact.”
Mr Hill said his focus in the coming months would be on protecting vulnerable road users – cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians – and addressing irresponsible driver behaviour. “So that’s those that speed, are impaired by alcohol or drugs or distraction behind the wheel,” he said.
Mr Hill is calling on people to complete the state government’s road safety survey, which includes dramatic proposals to cut the road toll and slash Victoria’s $3 billion annual road trauma bill.
The survey can be found at roadsafety.vic.gov.au