Speed, alcohol on police radar

POLICE will be out in force on roads across Northern NSW this long weekend, targeting speeding and drink-driving as part of their annual Operation Slowdown blitz.

The aim is to address the worrying rise in fatal crashes in the region.

Since January Northern NSW has topped the State in fatalities with 98 people dead.

Speeding was a factor in more than one-third of the deaths.

That's 17 more than for the first nine months of 2008, with The Coffs/Clarence local area command having the highest number of fatalities in the region with 14 deaths this year.

A study of the crashes in the northern region has shown that 33 of the deaths have been people aged 25 or under.

Police are warning young drivers that the combination of speed, alcohol, or distractions such as using mobile phones, can lead to disastrous consequences on the road.

Northern Region traffic coordinator Senior Constable Glenn Trubody said a worrying trend was that 88 of the 98 people killed were locals.

“Local people are dying on local roads,” he said.

“This could be your teacher, your workmate or your friend, so there is no room for complacency if you are not going away over the holidays.”

The Operation Slowdown blitz started at 12.05 this morning and wraps up at 11.59pm on Monday.

Double-demerit points will be in place during that period for speeding and seat belt offences.

Drivers have been urged by police to take regular breaks, to be patient, slow down and drive to the conditions.

“I want families to be able to spend these holidays together, remembering them for the right reasons, not mourning the loss of a loved one,” traffic services commander, Assistant Commissioner John Hartley, said.

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