21 December 2023

Police launch holiday road safety blitz as 2023 death toll soars

| Zoe Cartwright
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Police car

Police have launched their Christmas holiday road safety blitz. Photo: File.

Police will be out in force across NSW roads from midnight Friday, after a horror weekend left at least eight people dead.

The deaths recorded since Friday lunchtime include Ray Padgett, 84, who was ejected from a minibus after it was hit by another car in Cowra on Saturday night, a 40-year-old man and 38-year-old woman who were killed in a crash outside Wagga, and a 49-year-old man killed in an accident in Orange.

Motorists are being urged to make safe driving their priority as part of the high-visibility, proactive Christmas and New Year road traffic campaign, which will start just after midnight (12:01 am) on Friday 22 December and conclude 11:59 pm on Monday 1 January 2024.

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Double-demerit points are in force throughout the period for speeding, seatbelt, mobile phone and motorcycle helmet offences.

NSW Police officers will also target other high-risk driver behaviour, including the Four Ds; drink, drug, dangerous and distracted driving.

Thousands of extra cars on the road will increase the risk of incidents.

Planning ahead, avoiding peak travel times and expecting delays of up to 40 minutes can help drivers arrive at their destination with minimum stress and maximum cheer.

The NSW Journey planner uses historical data to predict delays at pinch points, and can be useful for planning your trip – find it here: Pinch Point Journey Planner.

You can get the latest traffic updates by downloading the Live Traffic NSW app, visiting livetraffic.com or calling 132 701.

Based on historical data, the heaviest traffic is expected on Friday, 22 December, and between Boxing Day, 26 December and Friday, 29 December.

Transport for NSW will monitor traffic at known pinch points on the Pacific Highway including Coffs Harbour, Tugun, and Hexham heading north, Mt Victoria on the Great Western Highway going west and Nowra, Jervis Bay, Milton and Ulladulla on the Princes Highway heading south.

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Planning regular rest stops, servicing vehicles in advance, and checking the weather forecast can also help drivers be prepared and make safer choices.

Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander Assistant Commissioner Brett McFadden urged the community to enjoy the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations but importantly to arrive at your destination safely.

“Traditionally, we see more people on the roads during the festive season, and this year will be no different,” he said.

“All road users need to remember to be patient and allow extra travel time.

“Double demerits will be in place and police will be on the roads making sure that the rules are being adhered to.

“Police will have a presence on all roads across the state, from major motorways to rural backroads, so have a Plan B to get home safely if you’re drinking, keep to the speed limit and always wear seatbelts.”

Deaths on NSW roads are up about 25 per cent compared to this time in 2022, at 349 up from 270.

John Hardwick, of Transport for NSW, said the increase was worrying.

“No one should have to endure the pain of losing a loved one on the road,” Mr Hardwick said.

“No matter your journey, this holiday season, let’s all make responsible decisions on the road to ensure everyone reaches their destination safely.”

Original Article published by Zoe Cartwright on Region Illawarra.

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