TRENDING UP: North East road toll rises as rest of the state falls

EDITORIAL: No room for complacency

MORE people died on North East roads last year even as the Victorian road toll fell for the sixth consecutive year to a 90-year record low.

Seventeen people were killed in the North East last year, compared with 14 the year before, while on the Border, 28 people lost their lives, compared with 23 in 2012.

Victoria’s road toll fell from 282 in 2012 to 242 last year; the lowest figure since 1924.

“We’re not trending in the same direction as the state, which is disappointing,” said North East traffic advisor, Sen-Sgt Cameron Roberts.

“While the state is pleasingly trending downwards, if so much as one of the hundreds of people killed is anybody you care about, those numbers take on a whole new complexion.

“The people who are dying on our roads are, by and large, ordinary mums, dads, sons and daughters who make a small mistake with catastrophic outcomes.”

The Transport and Accident Commission yesterday released a report of those killed on roads in each of Victoria’s local government areas.

Four people were killed in Benalla, three lost their lives in each of the Wodonga, Wang­aratta and the Moira council areas and one was killed in the Indigo shire.

Most were men and most were aged more than 50 and motorcyclists accounted for almost half of the fatalities in Wodonga, Wangaratta, Moira and Indigo council areas.

Six motorcyclists were killed in these four areas and Sen-Sgt Roberts said it was a disproportionately high number.

“Motorcyclists are dying, there is an element where the car drivers should have had a better look, but didn’t and it’s ended badly for the motorcyclists,” Sen-Sgt Roberts said.

“The situation is that motorcyclists are a vulnerable road user group, by virtue of the fact that even small mistakes are going to have very bad outcomes,” he said.

Sen-Sgt Roberts said most of the motorcyclists were men over 50 who had started riding again.

“The bottom line is dress appropriately, ride within the rules and your own limitations,” he said.

Sen-Sgt Roberts said distraction and fatigue were still playing a part in fatal accidents.

“It still comes down to if you’re paying attention, not being distracted and not driving tired. There are some that would not have occurred if they hadn’t been distracted, inattentive or tired,” he said.

While the road toll is up in the North East, figures showed the number of serious injury collisions has fallen dramatically.

In Wodonga and the Indigo Shire, part of the same police service area, there was an almost 40 per cent drop in serious injury collisions with 64 people injured in 2013 and 103 in 2012.

In Wangaratta, Moira and Alpine, the Wangaratta police area, 121 people were seriously injured in crashes last year compared with 130 in 2012.

Sen-Sgt Roberts said a more visible police presence had helped the dramatic drop in Wodonga.

“We’ve put a lot of time and effort into the area because I think that’s the tactic we’ve got to take because there are so many people who won’t get it and the only way they will get it is when we pay attention,” he said.

Sen-Sgt Roberts said he hoped for a zero fatal and serious injury toll this year.

“While that’s a nice sentiment, it’s an ambitious thought,” he said.

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