Motorists across the Hunter Region are being urged to “switch on” and do the right thing ahead of this year’s Fatality Free Friday.
It is estimated that around 1,200 people lose their lives on Australia’s roads every year.
Newcastle Traffic and Highway Patrol Command Senior Sergeant Michael Buko says the pandemic is creating lighter traffic on the roads.
However, he adds officers around the city are “catching more people speeding than ever”.
“Pay attention to what you are doing and slow down,” he says.
“I think a problem in society at the moment is that everyone is rushing from A to B all the time and people aren’t planning in advance.
“Wake up an extra five minutes early to get to work, give yourself time, don’t rush, pay attention, and don’t touch your phone.”
He wants people to remember that, every time they get behind the wheel, they control a vehicle that can kill someone if they are doing the wrong thing.
Since its inception in 2007, the Fatality Free Friday campaign has helped the Australian community take ownership of complex road safety issues and encouraged drivers to make smart choices on the road.
“Days like [Fatality Free Friday] highlight to people that there are people dying on our roads,” Sergeant Buko says.
“It’s not just a police problem, it’s a community problem and we need to make an effort as a community to make a difference.”
Set to fall on Friday 29 May, the Australian Road Safety Foundation hopes the initiative will lead to a fatality free day.
Sergeant Buko says a day like that will give his staff a much-needed break and believes there is a big misconception around highway patrol officers.
“No one likes us, we’re the bringers of bad news but we’re all mums and dads and brothers and sisters, we all live in the community,” he says.
“I’d love my guys to come back and say: ‘I didn’t book anyone today, no one did anything wrong’.
“But, unfortunately, we go to accidents, we hold people’s hands when they die, and we see things that people should never see, and we have to see it time and time again.”