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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Motorists speeding into 2021… unfortunately

Despite NSW recording its lowest road toll in almost 100 years, police were still disappointed in the number of motorists caught speeding during the 2020-21 Christmas and New Year period.

Their state-wide operation began at 12.01am (Thursday 24 December) and concluded at 11.59pm yesterday (Sunday 3 January) with double demerit points in force across the festive season.

In the Northern Region, which takes in Newcastle City, Lake Macquarie, Hunter Valley and Port Stephens-Hunter police districts, 2,517 infringements for exceeding the speed were handed out.

Officers also conducted 37,774 breath tests, with 181 PCA charges issued.

Mobile phone (49) and restraint (145) infringements tallied up to 194 offences as well.

While there were no fatalities registered, or lives lost, 153 major crashes were reported, with a total of 69 people injured.

About 11.50am, on the final day of Operation Safe Arrival, police stopped a blue Subaru Sedan on Wine Country Drive, Branxton, and spoke to the driver, a 26-year-old man.

He was subjected to a roadside breath test that returned an alleged reading of 0.108.

The Singleton male was issued a future Court Attendance Notice (CAN) to appear in Muswellbrook Local Court on Thursday 11 February.

Then, about 2.40am on Monday 4 January, Newcastle City officers were patrolling Hamilton and stopped a vehicle for the purpose of a random breath test.

Checks revealed the male driver was a habitual traffic offender – and disqualified from driving until 2061.

He was conveyed to Newcastle Police Station and charged with drive while disqualified, use unregistered and uninsured vehicle, use vehicle with unauthorised number plates.

The man was bail refused and he will appear in Newcastle Local Court today.

NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott praised most motorists across the state who obeyed road rules but urged the community not to become complacent.

“The priority every day – not just during the festive season – is to reduce fatalities on the road and for the road safety message to get through to all motorists,” he explained.

“Compared to this time last year, we saw four fewer fatalities on our roads and only 691 motor vehicle collisions, down 205 from 896 last year.

“We should be proud of the reduction in these numbers but with summer travel continuing, I urge motorists to do all they can to take care behind the wheel and keep our roads safe.”

Police issued an overall total of 9,407 traffic infringement notices for speeding during this year’s operation – up 650 – compared to the same time last year.

This includes 268 fines for P-plate drivers caught exceeding the limit.

Traffic and Highway Patrol Command Acting Assistant Commissioner Stephen Hegarty said police would not stop targeting the four Ds – drink, drug, dangerous and distracted driving.

“I know the majority of people were excited to see the back of 2020 and it appears as though we travelled at speed into 2021, which is a concern given that speed is a leading contributor to fatal crashes,” he stated.

“As a frontline worker, one of the hardest things to do is deliver the news of a loved one’s death – especially as a result of a road crash, which could have been avoided by making better choices behind the wheel.

“We asked road users to take care over the holiday season and we praise those who did the right thing, but let’s continue to make good choices and ensure we all get home safely.”

During the 2020-21 operation, police conducted 199,493 breath tests, charged 569 people with drink driving and issued more than 8,700 infringements for restraint, mobile and other offences.