By VINNIE RODI

MILDURA police will be out in force this Labour Day long weekend, with motorists warned that they will be caught out if they choose to do the wrong thing behind the wheel.

Police visibility and presence will increase starting today as part of the Statewide Victoria Police initiative – Operation Arid.

The annual Labour Day traffic operation – which is already in effect and will conclude at midnight next Monday, March 11 – aims to crack down on the main causes of road trauma – most notably those driving while impaired, and those choosing to drive at high speeds.

One of Victoria Police’s new alcohol and drug testing buses will also be stationed in Mildura at numerous locations throughout Operation Arid.

“This give us an increased capability… and increases our visual presence and testing,” Mildura police Traffic Advisor, Senior Sergeant Daron Hulls, said. 

Snr Sgt Hulls said that Operation Arid focuses on keeping vulnerable road users safe, and taking those who are drug and alcohol-impaired off the roads.

“Our local focus is on ensuring that the weekend is free from road trauma,” he said. “In the past few weeks we have caught numerous drivers on our local roads driving while drunk or otherwise impaired.

“Some of the blood alcohol readings have been quite alarming, and quite high. The alarming factor is that some of these readings have been above .15 – three times the legal limit – which is disappointing and unacceptable.

“This certainly has an impact on the community, especially in rural communities. A lot of people are known in small towns, so the harm impact for rural communities is more severe.

“We’ll test as many drivers as possible for drugs and alcohol, and people should expect to be tested anytime, anywhere. 

“Drivers should also be aware that any police vehicle and member has the capability to test for drugs or alcohol. Testing is an important part of reducing the number of lives lost on our roads, and we’ve got an extreme focus to remove these drivers from our roads.

“As it currently stands, drink and drug-driving continues to be the leading cause of road trauma.”

Speeding will also be a focus for local members.

“We’ve seen an increase in high speeds as of late, which we certainly want to crack down on,” Snr Sgt Hulls said. “Speed is the number one contributor to road trauma, and the major factor in a third of our major collisions.” 

Mildura police are also calling on local residents and visitors to the area to plan ahead.

“The simple message is if you’re planning to drink this long weekend, don’t drive,” Snr Sgt Hulls concluded.