AN ALARMING number of traffic accidents and deaths across the Northern Rivers has prompted local police to launch a traffic operation aimed at addressing the mounting road toll.
Several residents have contacted The Weekly during the past month over the shocking increase in the number of road accidents and many believe these could have been avoided.
“It’s bloody mobile phones – put your phone away and concentrate on the road,” one caller, who did not want to be named said.
“And stop the tailgating on Tweed Valley Way, yes we know you’re in a hurry but there’s only one road in and out and we all need to use it.”
The Northern Region road toll currently stands at 105, which is 25 deaths more than the same time last year and there’s fear it could continue rising. A total of 311 have died on NSW roads this year which is 38 more than the same time last year.
Traffic and Highway Patrol officers said they were alarmed at the rising road toll in the Northern Region of NSW including areas such as Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah.
The officers are appealing to road users to share the responsibility and put an end to the tragic loss of life on the roads.
Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy is Acting Commander of the state’s Traffic and Highway Patrol Command and said that operation “North Force” was focused on driving down the road toll across the Northern Region.
“In the past 24 hours (Tuesday, October 18), five people have died on NSW roads, three of them in one crash in Northern Region,” Assistance Commissioner Corby said.
“Those crashes impact entire communities and we’re appealing for everyone to share the message of responsible driving and wise judgement on the roads.
“Given the current road toll in northern NSW, those using the M1 and feeder roads need to take extra care, which is what this joint operation between the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, working with the NSW Centre for Road Safety, will be focused on.”
Assistance Commissioner Corby said mobile phones were becoming an increasing issue by distracting drivers, but speed and drink or drug driving were also major contributors.
“We know that speeding, drink or drug driving, not wearing a seat belt or proper helmet, driving fatigued or distracted by a mobile phone are all lead to serious injury and fatal crashes on our roads, which is what police will be on our roads enforcing throughout the operation,” he said.
“We want those that are using northern roads for holiday, work, education, or day to day activities to get to and from their destinations safely, rather than becoming another sad statistic on our roads.”
“With the support of the NSW Centre for Road Safety, we will have Metropolitan, Operational Support and Taskforce Officers working alongside Northern Traffic and Highway Patrol Command staff, for extended periods, ensuring that those that continue to put themselves, their passengers, and other road users at risk, are identified, prosecuted, and put off our roads.”
Bernard Carlon, Executive Director of the NSW Centre for Road safety, said the partnership with police is aimed at educating and raising awareness of the dangers of unsafe driving.
“As it stands, we are losing far too many lives in crashes in northern parts of the state which is why we are investing around $130,000 from the Community Road Safety Fund into this Police operation.
“Speeding is a key concern in the Northern Region contributing to around 44 per cent of fatalities this year, while driver fatigue is the second biggest killer in the Northern Region with around 30 per cent of fatalities happening because someone was too tired to drive.
“High visibility policing is a critical part of our efforts to improve safety across the road network but it is also important for drivers to help us save lives by behaving safely on the road at all times.
“We are working towards zero when it comes to the road toll, and to do that, we need drivers to stick to the speed limit, drive only when well rested, and have a plan B if you plan to have a few drinks on a night out.”