Double demerits are in place from Friday.
Double demerits are in place from Friday. contributed

Holiday DUI a 'recipe for catastrophe'

MOTORISTS on the Tweed have been urged to use caution as we head into the Christmas week.

A total of 372 lives have been lost on NSW roads so far this year.

That's on par with the number of road deaths this time last year, but police say that's 372 too many.

The state-wide Operation Safe Arrival kicked off last Friday morning and will continue until 11.59pm on January 1.

Double demerits will be in place from Friday, December 22 to Monday, January 1 inclusive.

Double demerits will apply for all speeding, mobile phone, seatbelt and motorcycle helmet offences.

Northern Borders Highway Patrol's senior sergeant Chad George said those speeding and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol were going to be specifically targeted throughout the Christmas period.

"The biggest things for us, locally, are speeding and drink-driving offences,” Sen Sgt George said.

He said it was disappointing to see a truck driver test positive for methamphetamine on the Pacific Hwy at Chinderah yesterday.

The truck driver also had a suspended licence at the time.

"He shouldn't have been driving in the first place,” Sen Sgt George said.

"For him to be driving...a 50 tonne vehicle having methamphetamine in his system is just a recipe for catastrophe.”

Sen Sgt George encouraged all motorists to take care throughout the holiday period.

"I just encourage people to stick to the speed limit, wear their seatbelt and don't drug or drink-drive,” he said.

Deputy Commissioner for specialist support Catherine Burn said passengers played a significant role in keeping our roads safe.

"In my view, one of the most tragic statistics is that 76 of the people who have died this year were passengers in vehicles,” Ms Burn said.

"That is 24 more passengers who have died this year when compared to last year.

"This is an especially tragic statistic, because it shows that innocent people are dying on our roads because of the poor decisions of people behind the wheel.

"During Operation Safe Arrival, we want everyone to remember not to let safety take a backseat. This means that we want drivers to think about the innocent passengers in their cars and other cars before they make a stupid decision to speed, pick up a phone, drink and drive, or drive tired.

"It also means we want passengers to be a backseat driver. Passengers need to speak up if they see their driver speeding, using their phone, or drinking before driving. They also need to offer to drive if their driver is tired or has been driving for a long period of time.”

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Troy Grant said emergency services shouldn't have to pass on news of a tragedy during what should be a "a time for celebration”.

"Do not let careless behaviour ruin what should be a time for celebration and fun. Make this holiday period memorable for all the right reasons,” Mr Grant said.

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