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Staying safe on country roads

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• AWARE: Warracknabeal SES Rescue Controller John Bish, Amanda Lorcombe and Trish Wilde encourage drivers to remain aware on the roads.

RURAL Victorian roads are claiming more lives than previous, where deaths have almost doubled compared to this time last year.
According to statistics released on the August 29 by the Traffic Accident Commission, the number of deaths on all Victorians roads is higher than it was this time last year.
There has been a significant increase to incidents occurring in rural Victoria whereby TAC figures indicate there have been 105 lives lost compared to 67 in 2018.
Last year the number of road accidents resulting in fatalities was 130, one year on the same date this figure has increased to 190 deaths.
This represents a 42 percent increase from this time in 2018.
These statistics come after the Yarriambiack region seeing a number of serious incidents in the last 12 months.
It was only two months ago a bus driver died in an accident where the bus collided with the trailers of a B-double truck on the Western Highway at Pimpinio
The bus which was carrying 45 passengers from Adelaide to Melbourne crashed into the trailers where Emil Pich, who was treated by emergency crews but died at the scene.
Another incident occurred back in April where one person was airlifted after their SUV collided with a truck carrying livestock near Minyip.
SES Unit Officer Amanda Larcombe said she believes people being unfamiliar with the state of country roads can be possibly be attributed to road accidents.
“I think people need to instead of just sitting on their cruise control and thinking about what’s ahead they need to make allowance for traffic conditions,” Mrs Larcombe said.
“We’re four and a half hours from the city and when people from the cities come here, they’re just not thinking, the roads are not like city roads.”
The TAC states there are a number of elements which affect safe driving.
This includes the road conditions, weather, driver fatigue, experience and the condition of the motor vehicle.
Mrs Larcombe said there are many ways to keep safer on country roads.
“Put aside the gadgets, concentrate on the road conditions and drive to those conditions,” Mrs Larcombe said.
She said even small obstacles can deter a vehicle.
“So for example if it’s windy you might be looking at branches and road debris, it doesn’t take a big stick to interfere with your driving,” she said.
“If it’s really windy conditions or it’s wet then the roads can be very different to what they’ve been for a long time.”
Mrs Larcombe said the condition of the road can be quite unstable in the Wimmera.
“The shoulders on the roads are not stable up here, so people may not slow down enough and don’t realise if it’s wet it could give way,” she said.
According to TAC there are currently drivers on Victoria’s regional roads who face greater risk due to higher speed limits, longer journeys and the quality of some country roads.
The TAC lives lost campaign was rolled as an attempt to change the way Australia views driver fatalities.
The campaign highlights the human element of the road toll and encourages all road users to change the way we think about road safety.
According to the TAC using the phrase “road toll” has the effect of dehumanising road trauma.
They believe by reducing people’s lives to a number, it makes it easier for the community to feel distanced from the issue.
To achieve this, the Victorian road safety partners including VicRoads and Victoria Police have adopted a Safe System philosophy to road safety.
This aims to minimise the risk of death or serious injury on the roads by taking into account the interaction between roads, vehicles, speeds and road users.