Police targeting 'big killers'

A MAN driving at 176km/h on the Pacific Highway and a woman registering a blood-alcohol reading of 0.275 are some of the chilling statistics underpinning a generally good Christmas result for Northern Region police - so far.

While only one life has been lost on North Coast roads over the Christmas period, police are begging motorists to remain vigilant for the remaining four days of the holiday.

The State holiday road toll stood at a shocking 17 yesterday on day 11 of the police campaign, Operation Arrive Safe, compared with nine for the same period last year.

The deaths have taken the State's overall toll for the year to almost 460 - 100 more than the same period last year. More than 130 of thefatalities have occurred in the Northern Region.

Northern Region traffic co-ordinator, Senior Sergeant Bill Darnell, said while most people were taking into account the wet conditions by reducing their speed and planning their trips, some were still not getting the message.

"One wonders what (some drivers) are thinking given the fact we're out and about and trying to reinforce to everyone that speed, drink-driving and fatigue are the big killers," he said.

"So far we are 11 days into the operation for our area and we've seen 51 seatbelt detections, 1107 speeding infringements and 695 other infringements.

"We've also had just under 11,500 breath tests resulting in 60 drink-driving offences and 113 other charges.

"Unfortunately, in regard to the number of people losing their lives on our roads statewide, it's not been a good operation."

Snr Sgt Darnell was speaking outside the Lismore police station yesterday as New Year's Eve approaches.

"I think, generally speaking, motorists are well aware of the fact that we're out and about and they are being mindful of the double demerit period," he said, adding that anyone caught would be dealt with.

"That's the message: You take that sort of risk and you're going to get caught."

Across the State during the Christmas period drink-driving offences are down, although there has been a sharp rise in speeding infringements.

This year 11,423 drivers have been caught speeding, 1160 more than the same period last year; while 787 drivers have been charged with drink-driving, 412 fewer than last year.

NSW Police Minister Michael Daley warned yesterday that there would be more than 500 Highway Patrol vehicles, 59 motorcycles and four drug buses on the State's roads this weekend.

"So if you can't stick to the speed limit, wear a seatbelt and stay sober behind the wheel, then you can expect to be caught," he said.

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