Police are calling on Hunter motorists to look out for each other this Australia Day, especially after a series of fatal crashes already in 2021.
Officers from Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, with assistance from Newcastle City, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens-Hunter and Hunter Valley districts, will conduct Operation Australia Day 2021 between 12.01am on Friday 22 January and 11.59pm on Tuesday 26 January.
Those who do the wrong thing face double demerit points during the period for speeding, mobile phone, motorcycle helmet and seatbelt offences.
The plea comes following a horror weekend on roads in the Upper Hunter, with four people dying in two separate accidents.
A woman was killed, and a second female injured, after a single vehicle crash about 11am on Sunday 17 January at Upper Allyn, approximately 50km east of Muswellbrook.
Then, at 9.30pm on the same day, three people died and a man was listed as “critical” when a Kia Carnival and a utility collided on Bengalla Road, also in Muswellbrook.
Now, police are urging motorists to take care ahead of Australia Day.
“We’ve experienced a number of tragic fatalities already this year,” Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander Acting Assistant Commissioner Stephen Hegarty said.
“This is a concern for police and the community, particularly for those who have lost a loved one.
“Australia Day is about mateship, camaraderie and looking out for each other.
“We want to see that on our roads.
“It’s been a tough 12 months for everyone and sometimes drivers can forget that in each and every vehicle is a loved one: a mate, a mother, a father, child or a sibling.
“Police will be doing everything in their power to work with the community in ensuring that motorists and their families arrive at their destination safely and enjoy this upcoming Australia Day holiday.”
Operation Australia Day 2021 will see officers patrolling roads across the state, targeting unsafe and dangerous driving.
“We’re asking all drivers to drive to the conditions, concentrate on the road and be aware of your fatigue levels,” Assistant Commissioner Hegarty said.
“Don’t be tempted by distractions such as your mobile phone as this can all lead to tragic consequences and endanger lives.”
Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott MP said this Australia Day may not be like past celebrations, but as a community we could still come together in the spirit of mateship to look after one another on the roads.
“Over the Australia Day weekend I urge people to celebrate safely – abide by the public health orders and the road rules,” he added.
“If you plan on having a drink – do so responsibly.
“We want people to celebrate safely and most importantly to make it home from their events without incident.
“We do not want any more fatalities on our roads.
“Tragically, two-thirds of the lives lost on NSW roads occur in the country, so I’m reminding everyone that if you take risks with other people’s lives and your own by doing the wrong thing, you will be caught.”