Police holiday road blitz aims to reduce fatalities

POLICE road blitz Operation Saturation is now in full effect with additional officers out if force to help combat the growing road toll.

The operation was triggered by a need to reduce the numbers of road fatalities which have climbed to 32 deaths this year in the Northern Rivers alone.

That's an increase of 68% on the same time last year, which saw 19 fatalities.

Across the state, that figure has grown from 78 fatal crashes with 83 deaths to 95 fatal crash with 101 deaths.

Under additional funding from the NSW Centre for Road Safety, NSW Traffic and Highway Patrol Command Chief Inspector Phil Brooks said additional highway patrol staff would be on patrol through a combination of officers working overtime on shifts or on their days off "in an effort to drive down the road toll".

In total, this will mean the entire Traffic and Highway Patrol fleet will be in action with assistance from local police from the Tweed/Byron and Richmond Local Area Command.

"We're deploying significant resources right throughout the NSW road network and people in Northern NSW can certainly expect to see a greater presence of highway patrol units from other areas," he said.

Police will be targeting the usual key risk factors on the roads, which are speeding, drink and drug driving, not wearing a seatbelt or proper helmet, driving distracted by a mobile phone and fatigue.

"We don't enforce fatigue for motorists however we're hoping that they'll see our brightly marked high-visibility highway patrol cars and that will encourage them to pull over, get something to eat, refresh and then continue their journey on safety," Chief Insp Brooks said.

"Sadly, particularly in the Tweed and Richmond areas we do see cars that have run off the road for no apparent reason other than fatigue."

Chief Insp Brooks said a big push for this year's operation was putting personal responsibility back on drivers.

"A key element of those fatalities would appear to be personal responsibility in terms of speeding, drink or drug driving, not wearing a seatbelt or proper helmet and fatigue," he said.

Operation Saturation began on Friday and will continue until Thursday April 21.

It will be immediately followed by Operation GO SLOW, which covers the Anzac long weekend from April 22 to 25 when double demerit points will apply.

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