POLICE have warned the community to expect tougher enforcement of road rules if people continue to ignore safety messages following another fatal crash on South East roads on Sunday evening.
The South East community is mourning the death of a 23-year-old Mount Gambier man who tragically died when his car crashed into a tree on the Princes Highway at around 5.45pm on Sunday.
Emergency services and paramedics attended, however the young driver – who was the sole occupant of the vehicle – died at the scene.
Limestone Coast Police officer in charge Superintendent Phil Hoff said the man’s death was another tragic loss for the local community.
“Invariably, the people dying on country roads are country people and they are not dying far from home,” Supt Hoff said.
“Here we have a young man who was five to 10 kilometres from his home who passed away in tragic circumstances on Sunday night.”
While all road fatalities have devastating impacts, Supt Hoff said this was the case of a man who had his whole life ahead of him.
“Just 23 years of age, you are left with grieving parents, lots of grieving friends and of course the community is shocked about it,” he said.
Supt Hoff said road fatalities have an emotional impact on an entire community and police are not excluded.
“Sunday night two police officers had to go and walk up someone’s driveway and tell a family that somebody was not coming home.
“They are the longest walks that anyone has to take, they are horrible.”
Sunday night’s fatality took the year’s road toll in the Limestone Coast to six – which has now risen to seven following another fatal crash at Tantanoola yesterday afternoon.
“But I ask the question, what is the community doing about it?” Supt Hoff said.
He said people need to start changing their driver behaviour.
“We have had such a high rate of people dying on the roads this year, it just appears to me that people have a cavalier attitude towards road safety,” Supt Hoff said.
“I think there is a sense of complacency – people just do not think it is going to happen to them.
“The reality is, people are not 10-feet tall and bullet-proof.”
Limestone Coast Police Operations Inspector Campbell Hill said road safety messages were still not being heard and the police will be unapologetic for enforcing the road rules.
“The reality is that if people are not going to abide by the road rules… they can expect to see the function that people generally attribute us to, which is pure enforcement.”
“It is not our preferred option, but we are up to seven deaths on the roads in five months now, which is just unacceptable.”
With winter just a few days away, Insp Hill said it is only natural to expect tougher driving conditions over the next few months.
“Certainly the concern is there and people really need to take these fatalities we have had as a wake-up call because there is worse weather still to come,” he said.
“In saying that, it is not impossible for people to get from A to B in the worst kind of weather if they are driving to the conditions, driving to their own capabilities and driving to the safety standards of their car.”