Police urge drivers to take care over Australia Day long weekend

Operation Safe Return starts at 12.01am tomorrow (Friday 24 January 2020) and concludes at 11.59pm on Monday 27 January 2020. PHOTO: File.
Operation Safe Return starts at 12.01am tomorrow (Friday 24 January 2020) and concludes at 11.59pm on Monday 27 January 2020. PHOTO: File.

Police are urging motorists to look after themselves and others in the true spirit of 'mateship' this Australia Day long weekend, as they launch their high-visibility presence on NSW roads.

Operation Safe Return started at 12.01am on Friday, January 24 and concludes at 11.59pm on Monday 27 January 2020.

Double demerits will be in force throughout the period for speeding, seatbelt, mobile phone and motorcycle helmet offences.

During Operation Safe Return 2019, three people lost their lives on NSW roads; the same number of fatalities as the 2018 operation.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott urged communities to celebrate Australia Day safely.

"Although Australia Day is a time to enjoy time with friends and family, we also tragically see an increase in road trauma and collisions," Mr Elliott said.

"NSW communities have seen more than their fair share of heartache over the summer. Our appeal is for motorists not to add to that by way of unnecessary road trauma.

"Take care of yourself and family, look out for your mates, and don't take any risks that would put your life or someone else's life at risk," Mr Elliott said.

Traffic and Highway Patrol Command's Assistant Commissioner, Michael Corboy, said that it more important than ever for people to look out for their fellow road users.

"The devastating fires that have affected our state over the past few months have shown how Australians can band together and support each other through thick and thin," Assistant Commissioner Corboy said.

"We are asking drivers to extend upon this and draw upon the spirit of Aussie mateship to look out for each other on the roads, by being responsible and not taking unnecessary risks.

"This means staying well-rested by having a good night's sleep before you start your journey, taking regular breaks, not drink or drug driving, and sticking to or below the speed limit.

"By neglecting these responsibilities, not only are you putting yourself at risk; but you are also risking the lives of your passengers and everyone else you encounter throughout your journey," Assistant Commissioner Corboy said.

NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, The Honourable Paul Toole MP, reminded all road users to be patient over the busy long weekend period.

"If you're travelling over the long weekend make sure you plan ahead, get a good night's sleep, drive to the conditions, stick to the speed limit, and don't take chances driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs," Mr Toole said.

"We know every life lost on our roads is a tragedy, especially for the victim's family and friends, but it also has a ripple effect on the local community.

"In small country communities, it's not uncommon for first responders who arrive at a crash, and the medical teams who try to save the lives of the drivers and passengers, to know the victims.

"Already 17 people have died on NSW roads this year, (up to midnight 22 January 2020) and while that is 12 fewer fatalities than for the same period in 2019 it is still too many. We need all road users to make safety their priority and help reduce the road toll to zero," Mr Toole said.

Throughout the entirety of Operation Safe Return 2019:

- 4584 infringements were issued for speeding,

- 8257 other infringements were issued,

- 478 people were charged with drink-driving,

- 190,870 breath tests were conducted

- Three lives were lost