Local News

Drivers still getting caught drinking behind the wheel over the long weekend in the Northern region

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Drivers are still being caught drinking behind the wheel over the long weekend. 

Operation Slow Down was run across the long weekend in NSW with Hunter Valley Police District (HVPD) highway patrol out in force catching drivers who choose to do the wrong thing behind the wheel. 

HVPD Superintendent Chad Gillies said they go into the weekend wanting everyone to stay safe and thankfully there were no serious injuries or fatal crashes in the region over the weekend.

"Our end goal is to make sure everyone gets to where they need to safely."

"Overall the vast majority of drivers are doing the right thing. I think we breath tested something like 2,500 drivers over the weekend - four people were detected with alcohol in their system and they will be fronting the courts as a result of that, concerningly one of those was high range."

Superintendent Gillies said their statistics so far show one person was caught using their mobile behind the wheel. 

"For me the message is still not getting through to everyone,"

"It will be interesting to see how this new trial goes with the new mobile cameras that come out at the end of the year, that'll be a bit of a game changer I think because that will take away the control that some drivers have," said Superintendent Gillies. 

There is often the argument that double demerits and extra police are about revenue raising, but that is never the case.

"I think the cynics out there will suggest that's not true, but I think the statistics this weekend reflect the fact that no one was seriously injured or killed perhaps through some luck, perhaps through some impact of the police, and also perhaps because some people are slowly getting the message," said Superintendent Gillies.

"I hear the argument about police hiding behind trees and that sort of thing. I guess my message is that we don't have one strategy, we have a strategy of high visibility and we also have a strategy of making sure that people don't quite know where the police are going to be so that may have a impact on driver behaviour for an extended period of their trip," he said.

"We do a combination of both and we don't make any apologies on that, if you're doing the right thing you don't really have to worry too much about the speed cameras and the police out there. They're there to save lives at the end of the day."

Across the state, police conducted 191,229 breath tests, issued 7632 traffic infringement notices and charged 222 individuals with drink driving offences.

Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy, Commander of the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, said it is disappointing that despite the obvious consequences, many drivers continue to ignore the warnings.

“Despite the huge amount of resources and messaging that has been invested across the state, year on year we have seen increases in crashes, injuries and deaths,” Assistant Commissioner Corboy said.

“Drivers need to realise that driving at speed, texting while driving, being under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and other irresponsible behaviour can have devastating effects on their own lives and the lives of others.”

Police are particularly concerned about driving practices in regional NSW where all the fatalities this weekend took place, in addition to increases in major crashes and persons injured."

“NSW Police will maintain our focus on keeping the people of this state safe on our roads, so if you choose to break the law expect to face consequences,” Assistant Commissioner Corboy said.

For the Northern Region in total there were 910 speeding infringements, 26,231 breath tests where 58 drivers were charged, 67 crashes and three tragic fatalities.

Image credit: Grant Broadcasters/Jessica Rouse