By Danielle Kutchel
Police were out in force over the Australia Day weekend as thousands of Victorians flocked to regional areas to soak up the summer sun.
Operation Amity ran from midnight on Friday 22 January until 11.59 on Tuesday 26 January, with a focus on impaired driving, speeding, fatigue and mobile phone use while driving.
According to Victoria Police, regional Victoria is a high risk for road trauma due to increased speeds in regional areas, longer distances travelled by drivers and the influx of other road users.
Operation Amity involved all available personnel from local road policing units to general duties and centralised support from other operational policing units.
Over the unofficial long weekend, police picked up four drink drivers and four drug drivers in Greater Dandenong.
There were 26 speeding offences, and three drivers were caught disobeying signs or signals.
Three mobile phone offences were detected, and only one seatbelt offence was recorded.
But even that one is one too many, according to police.
As of Friday 22 January, six people had died on Victorian roads already this year and police believe that three of those who died were not wearing seatbelts – leading them to warn drivers of the importance of buckling up.
“Putting on a seatbelt gives you the best chance of survival if involved in a serious collision. Sadly, lives could have been saved if people managed to do this simple task. Whether you are travelling a short distance down the road or on a long journey – always wear a seatbelt. There’s no excuse,” said Acting Assistant Commissioner John Fitzpatrick.