David Stuart

Drivers clock up $32,000 in fines in December alone

HIGHWAY patrol officers in the Tweed-Byron Local Area Command issued $32,000 in fines for 89 separate speeding offences in December.

It was the region's smallest monthly speeding fine bill since February 2014, according to the Office of State Revenue's records.

The figures revealed nine of the fines were issued to drivers exceeding the speed limit by more than 30km/h, sharing $7695 in fines.

Only one was issued in a school zone, attracting a $186 fine.

Regional figures have not been made available for drug driving, but police have vowed to ramp up drug testing after revealing tested New South Wales drivers were five times more likely to record positive readings to drugs than alcohol last year.

Police records showed one in every 48 people tested for drugs recorded a positive reading, compared to one in 208 for alcohol.

"So far this year, nine people have been killed on NSW roads and people need to take a more serious approach to road use and realise that speeding, fatigue, distraction, mobile phone use and drink or drug driving can all kill," NSW Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said.

But the controversial tactic has its detractors.

NSW upper house Greens MP David Shoebridge has launched an online petition calling for "arbitrary and invasive" roadside drug testing to be abolished.

"The NSW Police openly admit they are testing drivers for the mere presence of drugs and that the levels they are testing for have no connection with impairment," he said.

"The police roadside drug testing is limited to only three illegal drugs - cannabis, MDMA and amphetamines.

"Meanwhile prescription drugs that seriously impair drivers and are commonly found to contribute to traffic accidents, including benzodiazepines and prescription painkillers, are never tested for."

Mr Shoebridge and the almost 9000 supporters who signed his petition called for the system to be replaced with a scheme that reliably tested for impairment and covered all drugs, legal and illegal, that posed a risk to road safety.

NSW Police's state-wide traffic operation Arrive Alive will continue until Australia Day.

Drivers will be slugged with double demerit points if caught speeding, using a mobile phone or not wearing a seatbelt between this Friday and Tuesday, January 26.

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