ARARAT - Ararat Police have come up with a new concept it hopes will entice drivers to act responsibly on the region's roads this holiday season.
Ararat Police Sergeant Shane Allgood said local officers want to turn their attention to well behaved drivers during a time when the focus is usually on those not following the rules.
"Instead of just jumping on people who are doing the wrong thing, we want to reward drivers that are doing the right thing and promote that aspect of driving," he said.
"We will be taking names of not only the bad drivers but the good ones too. Those good drivers will go into a draw and each week someone will win a $70 meal voucher for two at the Ararat RSL.
"This is an Ararat Police initiative, it is just something a bit different and we are always working with the Ararat Rural City Council in relation to road safety, especially over Christmas and New Years - We are always keen to get the message out there and keep the fatalities down."
The 'rewarding good drivers' initiative kicked off this week and will run over the course of December.
Sgt Allgood said all names collected would then be eligible for a major prize provided by the Ararat Rural City to be drawn in early January valued at $250.
"If we see them doing something proactive on the road or showing courtesy to other drivers in some way they will be eligible," he said.
"It could be something as simple as giving way at a roundabout and allowing themselves plenty of time for other drivers to clear before they enter, it could be giving way to pedestrians crossing the road, even just wearing your seatbelt might be enough to get you a nomination."
Another initiative from Ararat Police which has been successful during the Easter and Christmas period in recent years is back again.
This week police again took the measure of setting up two car crash displays on the Western Highway, at the Stawell and Ballarat exits respectively, in the hope that the visual evidence will have a greater impact.
"We get a lot of positive feedback about it and not just from the local community, but we also get a lot of holiday drivers comment," Sgt Allgood said.
"Ray Hopper from Stawell Auto Wreckers provides the displays. In fact last time I believe he went all the way to Naracoorte to get a car because he thought that it was really well damaged that it got the message across,"
"He has always been a good supporter, as have the local towing companies Harris Accident Repair Centre and Boyd's Body Works in setting them up and removing the wrecks."
Visual electronic notice boards presenting road safety messages will also complement the displays.
Victoria Police are currently undertaking a state-wide operation called 'Summer Stay' which coincides with four operations carried out between November and January:
Operation RAID (between November 15 and December 8) aims to remove all drug and alcohol impaired drivers from the roads. During Operation RAID members from across the state are asked to provided a highly visible police presence in their Police Services Areas.
Operation Break Up (December 9-22) aims to reduce road trauma at a time when many people are attending Christmas break up parties. All police members are encouraged to focus on the most common causes of trauma at this time of year - speeding, drink and drug driving, fatigue and driver distraction.
Operation Crossroads (December 23-January 3) covers the official holiday toll period. It is coordinated by the Australia/New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency and again focuses on the major causes of road accidents.
Operation Fresh Start (January 4-5) is the final operation of Summer Stay. The aim is to keep drivers safe as they return from their holidays.
Already in the Northern Grampians Police Service Area officers have 10 drink/drug drivers, 202 general offences and one car impounded during the 'Summer Stay' operation, while state wide police have processed more than 850 drink/drug drivers and 17,000 general offences.
Sgt Allgood said the message local police want to get out to the community is that it is better to arrive late than never.
"There will be no tolerance shown to people who want to speed or drink-drive over the holiday period as it is the most dangerous time of the year," he said.
"We will be working the highway heavily as well as around town. We want to make sure people do the right thing and stay safe."