South-west Victorian driver narrowly avoids head-on with police at Naringal

NEAR MISS: Police have released dash cam footage of a Ford wagon narrowly avoiding a head-on crash with a highway patrol car at Naringal. Picture: Supplied.
NEAR MISS: Police have released dash cam footage of a Ford wagon narrowly avoiding a head-on crash with a highway patrol car at Naringal. Picture: Supplied.

Footage of a vehicle narrowly avoiding a head-on crash with a police patrol car shows there's just inches between life and death.

The frightening video was released by police ahead of the Australia Day long weekend, with south-west police road safety adviser Senior Sergeant Chris Asenjo urging the community to stay safe on the roads.

The road safety adviser was the passenger of a highway patrol vehicle travelling east on the Cobden-Warrnambool Road at Naringal on January 11.

"We were travelling at 99km/h and there was a sprinkle of rain when the Ford Wagon started to veer, crossing the line and onto the wrong side of the road," he said.

"Considering the speed of both vehicles, if there was a head-on, the force would have been catastrophic.

"Fortunately the driver of our vehicle was switched on and moved half of the vehicle onto the shoulder of the road. At that point you can see the other motorist swerve back into their lane."

Senior Sergeant Asenjo said the only thing between a head on-collision was trust in the other driver.

"If a fixed object is hit at a certain angle or speed, there is only inches between life and death," he said.

He said the south-west male driver was "visibly shaken" after the police intercept.

"I hope that this incident serves as more of a deterrent than the penalty," he said.

The motorist was issued with a $160 penalty notice for driving on the wrong side of the road.

"Crashing a car is one of the most dangerous things you can do. And looking at this video, this driver is the face of distraction and fatigue," Senior Sergeant Asenjo said.

"If the vehicles had collided he could have been facing a dangerous driving or serious injury charge and would have been facing jail.

"The driver said he was using the instrument panel of his vehicle. It shows that although we bang on about mobile phones causing distractions, vehicles are now a lot more technologically advanced and the touch screens are just as much of a distraction."

Senior Sergeant Asenjo said the incident served as a timely reminder for motorists to stay safe ahead of the Australia Day long weekend.

He said additional resources would be out in full force from early Friday as three police operations occurred across the south-west.

"As with all public holidays, there will be a lot of people on the roads so we're increasing our focus in relation to the major contributors of road trauma - fatigue, distraction, impairment, seat belts and speed," he said.

South-west police road safety adviser Senior Sergeant Chris Asenjo.

South-west police road safety adviser Senior Sergeant Chris Asenjo.

"Operation Amity will kick off on Friday and will run through to midnight on Monday.

"We also have two operations being Operation Apostle which is an additionally-funded operation by the Transport Accident Commission that sees additional rostered police down on the Great Ocean Road.

"To add a bit more, the Chinese New Year falls over the Australia Day weekend so we have our normal Operation Loch Ard which is a joint road police between Geelong, Colac and Warrnambool highway patrol. That is coordinated by myself here at Warrnambool."

Senior Sergeant Asenjo said he was pleased to say south-west roads were fatality-free so far this year.

"This time last year we had two in January and another two in February. During the summer months there are more people on the roads and the risk really increases in those months," he said.

"We've had one fatality in the last six months so we are tracking quite well but our aim is to keep it that way.

"It would be terrific to see people moderate their driving, be courteous on the road, not be in a rush, monitor their fatigue and not drive while impaired."

This story 99km/h, a wet deck, a police car and a head-on waiting to happen first appeared on The Standard.