BENDIGO Highway Patrol is bracing for increased traffic on the region's roads this weekend, as people venture out for what might be their first long-distance drive since the outbreak of COVID-19.
This is the first long weekend since restrictions have allowed for overnight stays.
Senior Sergeant Ian Brooks has urged people to take every precaution before embarking on their journeys, whether it be for tourism or to visit family and friends.
"If you are going to do that, just make sure you're ready," he said.
He suggested people be mindful of the driving conditions, as mornings became cooler and more likely to be icy.
People ought to check their vehicles were in shape to be driving long-distance and arrange for any necessary maintenance.
They, too, ought to be prepared for the drive, including being well rested and alert.
Senior Sergeant Brooks said police had already noticed an increase in traffic since COVID-19 restrictions started easing.
He said police had attended enough serious crashes this year.
"Let's all have a breather. Let's all have a look [before driving]," Senior Sergeant Brooks said.
Police at the state's highest ranks had similar advice, observing that the state's road toll was approaching the number of lives lost to COVID-19 in Australia.
Road Policing Command Assistant Commissioner Libby Murphy said the community had been adhering to the public health warnings; it was now also time to adhere to road safety warnings.
A road safety operation will focus on speeding, drink and drug driving, fatigue, driver distraction, and people not wearing seatbelts.
Operation Regal runs until 11.59pm on June 8.
"Despite all the warnings, unfortunately some people continue to speed, drink, take drugs and drive," said Assistant Commissioner Murphy said.
"We want people to take road trauma seriously. One life is too many, let alone close to 100 Victorians who will not be around to see the year end.
"If nothing else, think about the grief and sadness your loves ones will have to go through should you not make it home, or the pain they will have to endure visiting you in a jail cell from killing someone else."
The Department of Transport reminded those planning road trips to maintain spatial distancing, practise good hygiene and stay home if they were unwell.
"If you're driving on roads you're unfamiliar with, extra attention is required. Make sure to always drive to conditions," the department said in a statement.
It advised people intending on setting out on a road trip to check their destination was open to the public before heading out.
"Avoid parks that are usually busy on a weekend, and if a car park is full, no more people can visit that site," the statement said.
"Do not join vehicle queues or park illegally - instead go to an alternative destination".
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