WIMMERA authorities have urged people to take care when travelling during Easter.

Horsham Highway Patrol Leading Senior Constable Heath Martin said all available police would be on the roads for the long weekend.

“Wimmera police will be participating in the statewide Operation Crossroads, which starts on Thursday and will end on Monday,” he said.

Operation Crossroads targets dangerous driving and the main factors of accidents, such as speeding, drink or drug driving, distraction, no seatbelts and fatigue.

Leading Senior Constable Martin said police encouraged travellers to take a break from driving every two hours, and to swap drivers regularly if possible.

“There will be extra vehicles on the roads so extra care is needed and drivers should remain patient,” he said.

“There is no need to be in a hurry.”

Victorian State Emergency Service spokesman Stefan Delatovic said emergency service volunteers and Lions club members would operate Driver Reviver sites throughout the long weekend.

“We encourage people to take advantage of these stops, where free tea, coffee and biscuits will be available,” he said.

Mr Delatovic said drivers could also get a free music download card at the stops. He said the stops encouraged drivers to take a break and avoid fatigue.

“We want everybody to stay safe this weekend,” he said.

Police and Emergency Services Minister Kim Wells said driver fatigue was a major cause of road accidents.

“Fatigue is a contributing factor in about 20 per cent of all fatal car accidents in Victoria, resulting in about 50 deaths and 300 serious injuries each year,” he said.

“Driver Reviver sites offer motorists a safe place to rest, have a drink, change drivers or have a power nap away from passing traffic.”

Country Fire Authority community education co-ordinator Jenny McGennisken said Wimmera residents still needed to be aware of fire risks.

“As we move into the Easter period, the fire danger is forecast to be high,” she said.

“Particularly here in the Wimmera, we haven’t had much rain and the fire danger period is still current and restrictions are still in place.

“People need to think about where they are going and where they could get information if there is an emergency.”

Ms McGennisken said the fires on Thursday last week were a perfect example of how the Wimmera was still at risk.

“People need to be aware of restrictions, particularly if they are camping and lighting campfires,” she said.

“They need to know what they can and can’t do, and that information is on the CFA website.”

Ms McGennisken said the Department of Sustainability and Environment had started planned burns this week.

“The public need to be aware that they may start seeing smoke later in the week and at the weekend,” she said.

She said the department website had a list of planned burns and information about fires in the area.

PLEA FOR SAFETY: State Emergency Service’s Crystal Sanders, Horsham Highway Patrol’s Alan Perry and Horsham Fire Brigade’s Rej Johnson want drivers to behave over the Easter long weekend. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

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