Police warn drivers to plan ahead after thousands turned around during 2023 snow season

(Rahul Pandit via Pexels)

Victoria Police is urging snow goers, including those from Hume and Whittlesea, to be prepared after thousands of vehicles were turned back last year due to lack of preparation.

More than 3600 vehicles were turned around by police and authorised officers at Mt Hotham alone for lacking the necessary wheel chains essential for driving in snowy conditions.

Victoria Police and authorised officers will again conduct random vehicle checks on roads leading to alpine resorts, adopting a zero-tolerance policy for any unprepared travellers.

Wheel chains are vital for navigating snowy or icy roads and can be the difference between staying safe on the road or sliding off the road and being involved in a serious accident.

It is a legal requirement to carry suitable wheel chains at all times during the snow season and to install them when instructed. Failure to carry chains may result in a $370 fine, while not fitting them could lead to a $970 penalty.

Visitors heading to Victoria’s snowfields, including Mt Buller, Mt Hotham, Falls Creek, Mt Baw Baw, Lake Mountain, and Mt Stirling can expect to see a heavy police presence across key roads and resorts.

This includes local police, highway patrol, heavy vehicle unit, liquor licencing and alpine police, patrolling all routes to and within alpine resorts this season.

These officers have undertaken specific training in alpine areas in the lead up to snow season, ensuring they are well placed to maintain public order on the slopes, respond to incidents, and conduct search and rescue missions.

Last year, police responded to 19 search and rescue events during last year’s snow season, including eight at Falls Creek, seven at Mt Hotham and four at Mt Buller.

On Friday, June 10, an 18-year-old man had a lucky escape after his vehicle drove off a cliff at Mount Buller. His vehicle came to rest on its side and was prevented from sliding further down the mountain after being stopped by trees. With a combined effort from police, SES, CFA, Fire Rescue Victoria, Ambulance Victoria and a local towing company, the vehicle was secured, and the driver taken to safety.

Last year, police caught several drivers over the legal alcohol limit and drug drivers.

In July last year, police intercepted a private 22 seat bus at Mt Buller. The driver returned a blood alcohol reading (BAC) over the legal limit and returned a positive drug test.

Other key safety tips for those heading to the snow include:

• Ensure your car’s radiator is filled with anti-freeze and if diesel use Alpine Mix.

• Drive cautiously with gradual pressure on the accelerator to avoid wheel spin.

• Brake gently and avoid unnecessary gear changes.

• Maintain a safe braking distance from vehicles in front, especially in poor visibility.

• Let someone know where you are going and how long you will be.

• Regularly check weather and snow conditions as conditions can change quickly.

• If lost – stop, seek shelter, call Triple-0 and wait.