Break road rules and pay the price
By ED SOUTHORN
BREAK the law on the roads these summer holidays and there is an even greater chance you will be caught and made pay the price.
Ten extra traffic police have arrived on the Tweed from Sydney to help tackle summer holiday driving offenders.
The metropolitan police from the Parramatta Traffic Support Group, mostly riding 1200cc motorbikes, have this week boosted to nearly 30 the total number of traffic police patrolling roads in the Tweed-Byron Police Command.
Tweed-Byron Traffic Co-ordinator Sergeant Bill Darnell yesterday said the annual influx of city police to the Tweed since the late 1990s was vital during the busy holiday period, when Tweed roads are packed with thousands of visiting and in-transit drivers.
Sgt Darnell said the metropolitan police would mostly patrol in the Tweed during the daytime, allowing Tweed-based traffic officers to focus on night patrols.
He said speed, alcohol, fatigue, seat-belt and mobile phone offences would be closely targeted, with double-demerit points applying for many offences in peak periods.
As well, driver licences and vehicle registrations would be closely monitored.
Seven road fatalities have occurred in the Tweed and Byron shires so far this year compared with 20 in 2003.
"But the last two weeks of every year are our busiest," Sgt Darnell said.
So far this year there had been 791 drinkdriving offences in the Tweed-Byron Command, the highest number in the NSW northern region extending from Gosford to the Tweed.
In the same period in Tweed-Byron, one in 12 road crashes have been alcohol-related and one in 39 drivers breath-tested have had blood-alcohol levels over the legal limit.
Tweed Police Inspector Greg Carey said it was important to remember the statistics included a lot of drivers on holidays or in transit who were not local residents.
This limited the effectiveness of local driver-education campaigns.
"But everyone has to realise that if they drink and drive they will get caught," Insp Carey said.
He said drivers needed to remember three demerit points applied for dangerous mobile phone driving offences.