Police urge travellers to be prepared when travelling to ski resorts in NSW and Victoria

Holidaymakers heading to the snow on the opening weekend of the ski season are being urged to be well prepared after thousands of vehicles were forced to turn around last year.

Victoria Police said more than 3,600 vehicles were turned away at Mount Hotham because they attempted the journey without the snow chains required for driving in snow.

Eastern Region Superintendent Shane Cashman warned that police would conduct random vehicle checks and implement a zero-tolerance policy towards unprepared travellers.

“Snow conditions can change quickly, so make sure you are prepared, even if you are an experienced snow walker,” he said.

“We want travelers to create memories on the slopes, not on the side of the road.”

Motorists in Victoria face a fine of $370 if they do not carry snow chains during the snow season. If they fail to fit snow chains to their wheels despite being instructed to do so, they face fines of $970.

Visitors to ski resorts in Victoria and NSW should expect a heavy police presence throughout the season, including highway patrol, special forces and liquor officers.

On Friday, New South Wales Police launched Operation Snow Safe to combat alcohol-related crime at licensed venues, dangerous and distracted driving, and risky behaviour on the slopes.

Southern Region Commander Assistant Commissioner Joe Cassar APM said that around one million tourists would flock to the Alpine region during the 2024 snow season.

“Snowfields can make navigation difficult, so we would like to remind everyone to put safety first when driving, plan your journey, take regular breaks, check weather conditions before setting off and fit snow chains to your tires when the surface is slippery,” he said.

“The Monaro Police District will be reinforced by uniformed and plain-clothed officers who will ensure that people in and around licensed premises are safe and do not engage in risky behaviour such as drink-driving or drug-driving.”

Assistant Commissioner Cassar said a new, purpose-built police station in Jindabyne would serve as a base for search and rescue operations around the snowfields.

Last year, NSW State Emergency Services responded to 31 incidents throughout the season.

Debbie Platz, acting head of the NSW State Emergency Service, urged skiers, snowboarders and hikers to prepare and rent a personal tracking device when heading to remote areas.

“Navigating snowfields can be difficult,” she said.

“Visitors should expect and be prepared for inclement weather. Hikers, no matter how experienced, should stay on the trails, as whiteouts and snow clouds can quickly and easily disorient you.”

Victoria Police reiterated the warning after being called to 19 search and rescue operations during last year’s snow season, including a man who drove his car off a cliff at the Mount Buller ski resort.

The 18-year-old was lucky in his misfortune because several trees prevented his car from falling further down the mountain.

He was rescued by the emergency services and brought to safety.

A month later, Victoria Police intercepted the driver of a private 22-seater bus who was under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Superintendent Cashman said police would be looking for poor driving behaviour such as drink driving, speeding, distraction and fatigue.

“When driving in inclement weather and encountering conditions such as rain, ice or snow, please use common sense – slow down, maintain a safe braking distance and turn on your headlights to see and be seen,” he said.

The warnings come as ski resorts across the country prepare for a grim start to the 2024 snow season: In NSW, only one of 75 chairlifts will be operating on the opening weekend.

Read related topics:Melbourne

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