Police are warning of a major crackdown on drink and drug driving after a record year for road deaths, as thousands prepare to take to the stands for the AFL Grand Final in Melbourne.
Officers last year nabbed a whopping 436 alleged drink and drug drivers over the busy holiday weekend, and conducted a further 123,568 roadside drug and alcohol tests on motorists.
This year, police are warning revellers to expect an even greater police presence with the major sporting event and public holiday coinciding with the Victorian school holidays that began last week.
Victoria Police Road Policing Assistant Commissioner Glenn Weir said while police encouraged celebration, he urged people to not “let this be a day you remember for all the wrong reasons”.
“Drinking and driving don’t mix, so if you’re planning to have a drink on Grand Final Day, don’t drive – leave the car at home, arrange a designated driver, and use alternative transport,” he said.
“There is no excuse for driving while impaired (…) Alcohol and drugs continue to be overrepresented in fatal collisions, and we don’t want to see any further tragedies on our roads this year.”
Road fatalities in Victoria reached a seven-year high this year, with three months left before the end of the year. So far, 210 people have died on the state’s roads, 27 higher than the same time last year.
Police said provisional analysis of this year’s fatal collisions indicate that drug and alcohol were the second and third highest contributing factors to fatalities, with speed remaining the highest.
More than half of this year’s fatalities were also been attributed to “low level noncompliance”, including lower levels of speeding and drink driving, distraction, and failing to obey road signs.
Police said miscalculation of alcohol consumption was one of the most common reasons given by busted drink drivers, which officers said suggested motorists were prepared to risk getting behind the wheel.
Operation Scoreboard will run statewide from 12:01am on Thursday until 11:59pm on Sunday, with police also ramping up enforcement operations in regional areas targeting long-weekend travellers.
The 2023 AFL Grand Final will see Collingwood face off against the Brisbane Lions on Saturday afternoon, with rock band KISS headlining the pre-game celebrations.