ACT Police invoked the horror bus crash in Melbourne, which saw several school children hospitalised with life-changing injuries during a second public road safety appeal.
“We really don’t want to see that in Canberra, so we’re going to do everything we possibly can to try and prevent those sort of accidents,” said Detective Acting Superintendent Matt Craft.
He said Canberrans should expect to see a heavy police presence on rural and arterial roads over the next few days, especially those with a speed limit of 80 km/h or more.
Handheld laser and mobile radar devices and specialised speed-camera vans have been deployed to enforce speed limits, including on the Tuggeranong Parkway and Monaro Highway.
NSW Police in the Queanbeyan region are also upping their visibility.
“I’ve seen some really terrible, fatal accidents [on Monaro Highway], and unfortunately, we’ll continue to see that whilst people continue to speed and take risks on this road,” Detective Acting Superintendent Craft said.
“We have a lot of people who think the speed limit doesn’t apply out on rural roads and we saw a good example of that last weekend where we had a serious motorcycle accident.
“Particularly [during the] early morning, we see a lot of people [travelling] early for work when there are not as many cars on the road, and they think just casual speeding is okay.”
He said one of the driving forces behind the focus on speeding was the overrepresentation of speeding drivers in road fatalities.
There have been two fatalities on ACT roads this year in the months to May (2023), a head-on smash on William Hovell Drive in January and a single-vehicle crash in Watson in February, compared with 18 road fatalities over the full calendar year in 2022.
While fatalities don’t appear to mirror 2022 levels, Detective Acting Superintendent Craft said limiting road accidents and resulting injuries was also important.
“We want to send a real clear and strong message that speeding is dangerous [and] that people really need to pay attention,” he said.
“Even casual speeding is just not acceptable … Obey the speed limits, obey the road rules and you won’t have any problems.”
While not the focus of the public campaign, he said every police car had random breath testing capabilities, and distracted and impaired drivers would also be targeted.
He also urged Canberrans to take the time to clear their windscreens and side mirrors of ice before driving anywhere and, when there was fog or bad weather, to drive to the conditions.
“We have a lot of wildlife, particularly kangaroos that could jump out at any time … so we really want people to pay attention, particularly leading up to snow season,” he said.
Detective Acting Superintendent Craft said while National Road Safety Week ended yesterday, road safety would be an ongoing focus and the police operation would continue.
Canberrans have been urged to take the pledge to drive so others survive and to remember to stay within the speed limit, wear a seatbelt, drive to the conditions, look out for vulnerable road users, leave the phone alone, and not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.