EASTER is traditionally a time when families get together for a long weekend and celebrate in one of their favourite locations.
This Easter thousands will gather in the Wellington shire, at some of the popular camping destinations along the Ninety Mile Beach and the High Country, in Seaspray for its Easter market and final surf club activities, in Yarram for its annual four day Tarra Festival and in Briagolong for the inaugural Fibarista.
Hundreds of motoring enthusiasts will congregate in Maffra today for the Gippsland Vehicle Collections Good Friday Appeal activities or at the many other Good Friday appeals across the shire.
The common link to these many events will be people travelling on the shire’s roads during what is one of the most hectic and potentially dangerous weekends of the year.
To help prevent disasters Wellington Highway Patrol units will be out in force over the Easter long weekend as part of Operation Crossroads.
Easter is historically a time of high risk on Victoria’s roads with 20 people killed and more than 1300 injured between 2010 and 2014.
Wellington Highway Patrol Acting Senior Sergeant Luke Banwell said Easter was the busiest time of the year on Wellington and east Gippsland roads.
Acting Senior Sergeant Banwell said “we’re getting back to basics with road safety”.
He said people needed to take responsibility for their actions on roads and focus on arriving at their destination safely.
The operation will target the fatal five factors of road trauma — drink-drug driving, speeding, fatigue, driver distraction, and not wearing seatbelts.
Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said he wanted all road users to look out for and take care of each other this Easter.
“With most Victorians enjoying a four-day weekend there will be a large increase in the number of people travelling on the road which leads to increased risk of a collision,” he said.
“This increased risk was tragically highlighted during the recent Labour Day weekend when eight people died on our roads.
“Fatigue is one of the biggest killers on our roads so I’m asking everyone to remember to be patient, take regular breaks, and share the driving if possible.
“There is no rush, the most important thing is that you get to your destination safely.”
AC Hill said police detected almost 9000 traffic offences across the state during Easter last year.
“You can be caught anywhere, anytime, so save yourself the fine and do the right thing,” he said.
“You never know you may just save your life too.”
The state-wide operation began at midnight last night and will run until Monday night.
Gippsland MHR Darren Chester echoed these sentiments saying the long weekend traffic combined with ongoing road safety improvements meant drivers should allow extra time to arrive at their destination safely.
“Easter is always a busy time on local roads with events and holiday activities across Gippsland set to attract locals and visitors to our region,” Mr Chester said.
“There’s about $200 million of road safety improvements currently underway on the highway between Traralgon and the New South Wales border and the changed road conditions should be taken into account.
“While I encourage everyone to get out and enjoy everything that is great about our region, motorists may need to allow extra time to arrive at their destination safely.”