Glare calls for increased country patrols

Published by The Weekly Times on July 10, 2019

INCREASED police patrols of country roads will help curb Victoria’s rising road toll, an ex-chief commissioner says.

Former police commissioner Kel Glare told The Weekly Times moves to reduce long-established speed limits would do little to address road deaths, but a more visible police presence on roads known for dangerous driving would assist.

His comments come as the Transport Accident Commission launches a series of road safety forums, the first of which will be held in Ballarat tonight.

“Having a visible presence out there in the community is essential,” Mr Glare said.

“In my time as chief commissioner, we ensured there were regular patrols throughout Victoria. That’s not to say there aren’t patrols today, there are, but the visibility and regularity is not what it once was.

“I often travel regional roads and have been surprised by the few (police vehicles) I encounter.”

Mr Glare served as chief commissioner from 1987 to 1992. During his time as Victoria’s top cop, the state’s road toll declined dramatically from 701 deaths in 1987 to 396 deaths in 1992.

His tenure coincided with the establishment of the Transport Accident Commission in 1987.

“The speed limits in Victoria are consistent with the rest of Australia,” Mr Glare said.

“Any alterations to the speed limit will do little to alter the road toll. The causes of road fatalities are in the main linked to alcohol or drugs, fatigue and excessive speed — usually far and above 100 or the 110 limits on our highways and freeways.”

Tonight’s road safety forum in Ballarat will be followed with another question-and-answer session in Marysville on Monday and Shepparton on Tuesday.

Police Minister Lisa Neville said the Government had invested in more than 3000 new officers, with regional Victoria a strong beneficiary.

“This year’s road toll is devastating, and we’re working with Victoria Police and our road safety partners to turn this around,” Ms Neville said.

Assistant Police Commissioner Stephen Leane said a number of road safety initiatives had been enacted, including additional speed camera hours and a specific motorcycling operation in regional Victoria.

“(Victoria Police) ran a-10 week operation which saw an additional 300 police shifts deployed across the state,” he said.

Victoria’s road toll for 2019 stands at 158, up from 100 deaths at the same time last year. Of those, 96 people have died on regional roads.