DRIVERS thanked police for possibly saving their lives yesterday as they targeted unroadworthy cars on the Hume Freeway.
The checks were made as part of the second day of the campaign Operation Drive-off.
The first day was at the north and south end of Wangaratta on Thursday, moving to the Winton freeway rest area south of the town yesterday.
Leading Sen-Constable Ross Woodrow said the driving public thanked police over the campaign for “making them safe”.
Part of the operation was about getting across the message that petrol drive-offs can result in a criminal conviction that could change someone’s life.
That follows a recent increase in drive-offs where drivers have not paid for their fuel.
Police had automatic number plate recognition with them to detect a range of offences, including whether a car was unregistered or whether its driver had outstanding fines or warrants.
Over the two days, police detected five number plate offences, 15 unregistered vehicles, three unlicenced drivers and two suspended drivers.
Not one of the 1588 drivers given preliminary breath tests returned a positive reading, while one driver was picked up for not wearing a seatbelt.
But Sen-Constable Woodrow, of Glenrowan police, said checking for unroadworthy cars formed the bulk of what they handled yesterday.
He said there were a few unsafe vehicle tickets handed out to the owners of cars “that were that bad”.
“We’ve now got a couple of cars sitting here without plates on them,” he said.
One car put off the road had bald tyres with steel sticking out, damaged brake and light lenses, a damaged windscreen and window winders that didn’t work. Sen-Constable Woodrow said drivers with major vehicle defects readily admitted they were in the wrong.
“But we’ve had three drivers who had just had their car serviced and the back tyres don’t have an ounce of tread on them,” he said.
“They’re actually extremely grateful, saying ‘you’ve probably just saved our lives if it rains’.”
One vehicle was determined to be unsafe while 17 were found to be unroadworthy.
Sen-Constable Woodrow said there was a continual flow of vehicles through the rest stop off the north-bound lane.
He said most drivers were doing the right thing.