Operation Argus’ efforts tainted by road deaths

By Ashlea Witoslawski

Tragedy continues to plague Victorian roads, despite police efforts at the weekend. 

Operation Argus, which ran from Thursday, September 5 to Sunday, September 8, was set up in direct response to the significant number of people killed on our roads this year.

Sadly, five more lives were claimed on roads across the state during this period, beginning with a collision on Friday in Wunghnu, where a man and woman died.

Eastern Region Road Policing Acting Inspector Rod Phillips said the efforts of police in the region were sadly eclipsed by the deaths.

"Our sympathies go out to the families of the lives lost as the road toll continues to grow," Insp Phillips said. 

Throughout the four-day operation, a total of 8677 traffic offences were detected along with 751 criminal offences across the state.

"It's disappointing to see people are not heeding the road rules," Insp Phillips said.

"People continue to take risks and the statistics speak for themselves."

Operation Argus targeted the main causes of road trauma, including driver impairment, fatigue, speeding, distraction and seatbelt offences.

In the Shepparton region, offences detected by officers included drink-driving, drug-driving, unlicensed driving, speeding, disobeying signals, not wearing a seatbelt, mobile phone use and unregistered vehicles. 

Insp Phillips said country road users were the most vulnerable and at risk of being involved in a serious incident.

"Country road users need to stand up and look after themselves," he said. 

"It's important for people to know if the speed limit is 100, you don't have to travel at that speed, you may need to slow down and drive to the conditions."

Insp Phillips said distraction of any kind was a significant problem on the road and that country roads would continue to be a major focus for Victoria Police during Operation Scoreboard, which will be held during the AFL Grand Final weekend. 

"We're currently in the planning and we'll be rostering additional people across that weekend," he said.

In 2019 so far, 196 lives have been lost on Victorian roads, 43 per cent more than in 2018, and 107 (53 per cent) of these deaths have been in rural Victoria.