Press Conference

Interview

DCI092/2017

16 November 2017

Subjects: Operation Safe Speeds

Doug Fryer: Good morning. Thanks for joining us. Today we have got Operation Safe Speeds—the national campaign right across Australia, all of law enforcement out making sure all Australians are safe on the roads. It is to highlight the importance of appropriate speed. So we will be out enforcing excessive speed, low level speed and even inappropriate speed. What we know is that in every single crash what will determine the extent of the injury will be the speed when the impact occurs. We are really keen to make sure that all the community understand how important it is to check your speed and to drive to the conditions. So whether it's rain, dusk, dawn, fog, on every road we are asking drivers to make sure that they assess the environment and drive to a speed to what is appropriate. The posted speed is absolutely not the recommended, it is the maximum.

What we know is that today somewhere in Australia there will be two or three people who woke up and who will not return to their homes tonight because of a fatal crash. Statistically, we should never accept that. And I am asking all Australians to buck the system. Do not accept that two or three Australians will die somewhere on an Australian road at some time today. Please be careful on the roads. Assess your speed. Drive to the conditions and make sure you get home safe.

Darren Chester: Well it is terrific to be here with Doug Fryer. I want to thank Doug first of all for the work that he does and the work that the men and women in the Victoria Police Force do in helping to keep Victorians safe on our roads. Never forget that the first responders at the scene of crashes, whether they be police personnel, ambulance personnel, SES, they face trauma on a daily basis which in many cases can scar them for life as well.

Last year 1,300 people died on Australian roads and 290 died on Victoria's roads and I simply don't accept that we have to repeat that year-on-year. So it is good to be here with Doug as we focus on speed. We understand that we need to take a safe system approach to reducing road trauma. It is about safer drivers on safer roads in safer vehicles, but also driving at safe speeds. So I want to congratulate Doug for the work he is doing in providing a highly visible deterrence factor on our roads by making sure that people are constantly aware of the need to check their speeds and drive to the speed to suit the conditions.

Doug Fryer: Happy to take questions.

Question: Every state in Australia already has their own anti-speeding campaigns, what is different about this one?

Doug Fryer: So what this is, we have joined all of the other states and territories right across the nation to highlight to every Australian that we focus on speed and speed reduction and speed enforcement every day of the week. But we want all of the Australian community to understand that we do it all the time, but it is really a campaign to just highlight the impact of speed when it comes to road trauma. Like I said what will determine the level of injury in every single crash that we see in Australia will be the speed at which that impact happens. So the lower the speed the less trauma. So we just implore everyone to drive to the conditions, drive to a speed that is appropriate, not necessarily what is posted on our roads.

Question: And what is going to happen in this 24 hours that the operation's going?

Doug Fryer: So not only will we be enforcing low level speed and high level speeds, we will be pulling people over who may, in the conditions, not be driving at a speed that is appropriate. So even if the posted speed is 60 or 80, if the roads are wet or slippery or visibility is poor it may be you getting pulled over just to have a chat around, you know, is that really an appropriate speed to travel at. So it is around community education. We just want all Australians to understand that depending on the speed at which they travel will depend on whether they get home at night safely or not.

Question: Vic Roads have announced that they are going to introduce red-light cameras on some freeways. Obviously drivers have some initial concerns around this. Do the police have concerns around this?

Doug Fryer: No, we absolutely support this initiative. What this is about is making sure our roads flow more freely. It is around easing the congestion, not causing it, so we know that for on-ramps and major freeways, we need to regulate what comes on and that is why this initiative is coming into place.

Question: So do you think the red-light cameras will lead to less incidents and crashes on them?

Doug Fryer: What it will lead to is a more efficient traffic flow system. So the idea is, is they regulate the oncoming traffic onto the major arterials to make sure it is done at a speed that is appropriate to ease in with the other traffic that is flowing on those freeways. So the reality is this is designed, it is highly sophisticated, and it is there to ease congestion, not cause it.

Question: And in another issue, we saw a tow-truck driver lose his arm on Tuesday. Can you tell us about that incident, and whether police are investigating?

Doug Fryer: So what we know down on Peninsula Link we had a horrific crash down there where a tow-truck driver, a road-side worker working on the side of the road at Peninsula Link was hit by a vehicle at speed and his arm was severed and he has lost his arm. The driver of that vehicle has stopped and the police are certainly investigating that, and we have got a male assisting with those inquiries as we speak.

Question: Can you give us any more information about the driver that made contact? Was he speeding, was he driving in the emergency lane?

Doug Fryer: So this is an ongoing investigation, an active police investigation. We are calling for any witnesses that may have seen the vehicle prior to the collision. We do know the driver has stopped, we have got his identity, and we have been speaking to him over the last couple of days.

Question: But is there any indication he was speeding?

Doug Fryer: So at this stage I really can't go into the details of the nuances of that investigation, but we have got police actively investigating it, making all possible inquiries, and speed will be a factor that we are looking at. Anyone who may have witnessed it, anyone who had dash cam of the incident, we ask them to come forward, contact crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Question: Just one more question on it. There are some reports that he was travelling in the emergency lane also. What are the penalties for someone travelling down the emergency lane when they are not in an emergency?

Doug Fryer: So the penalties are fairly severe, it is several hundred dollars in fines. We routinely do targeted operations for those who want to flout the law, think they can get there quicker by travelling in the emergency lanes. We have had terrible crashes where people have taken the law into their own hands, travelled down the emergency lanes really to get 10 or 20 cars ahead. It is not worth it, it is against the law, and if caught you will be penalised there and then on the spot with a penalty notice.

Darren Chester: We are about halfway through a billion-dollar upgrade on the Monash Freeway and the ramp metering system is one of the tools that will help to improve by productivity, reduce congestion, actually reduce a number of crashes, nose to tail crashes, on the Monash in the future.

Question: Sorry. Just on that same incident, we have seen laws introduced around speed for when emergency vehicles are in the emergency lane, who have to drop their speeds. Do we need to see something similar for when vehicles such as tow-trucks are there?

Doug Fryer: You know, I am more than happy to have the discussion with those that set the legislation, write legislation. What was brought in July of 2017 in Victoria is that emergency services workers—so SES, police, ambulance, fire, CFA—that there is now legislation that if the lights are operating on the side of the road that people must drop their speed to 40 kilometres an hour. This initiative was all around protecting our roadside workers who happen to be emergency service workers. We have got other roadside workers like RACV, like tow-truck drivers. You know, it is a discussion that we can continue to have with the road safety partners.