Victorian motorists beware: traffic police are now under strict instructions to target low-level speeding in a bid to save lives and make driving above the limit as socially unacceptable as drink driving.
News Limited reports Victorian Road Policing Command Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill has instructed his force to fine more motorists guilty of setting their own "de facto" speed limits and travelling at 1km/h to 15km/h over the limit.
Hill said more traffic operations were planned for 2014 than last year, with speeding drivers the main focus.
"I expect there to be an increase number of low-level speeding infringements issued by our members in the future until the attitude is changed on our roads," Hill said.
"What we have said to our members is to focus on speed enforcement. The speed limits are set at the maximum speed you can travel at, having regard to the road conditions.”
Hill said the shift in focus to low-level speeding was due to data that suggests 15 deaths and 300 serious injuries could be prevented annually if drivers reduced their average speed by as little as 1km/h.
"The evidence is very clear; speed is the absolute killer on our roads," Hill said.
"If we can reduce our mean speeds across the road network we will save lives, and this is all about saving lives. Whether you're 5km/h or 15km/h over, if you speed, you can expect to be stopped by police.
"The culture has shifted in respect of drink driving, it's now socially unacceptable for people to get behind the wheel of a motor car and drive while affected by alcohol, but the same cannot be said for speeding.
"Across our community, people don't appreciate that low-level speeds can be just as dangerous as high-level speeding."
Victorian drivers caught exceeding the speed limit by less than 10km/h will receive a $180 fine and lose one demerit point, with 10-15km/h above the limit coming with a $289 fine and three demerit points.
Police say the first major traffic operation of the new year, dubbed 'Operation Amity', will coincide with this Australia Day long weekend and run for four days. Twenty-three days into 2014, Victoria's road toll stands at 17 (six more than this time last year).
Earlier this week, a 12-month trial program starting February 1 that will see a 200km stretch of the Stuart Highway return to having open speed limits sparked a war of words between Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles and the head of the Pedestrian Council of Australia.