Drivers were warned to be on their best behaviour this weekend, with NSW Police launching a new road safety campaign ahead of Australia Day.
Operation Safe Return is in place from Friday January 23 to Monday January 26, and motorists will receive double demerits for a number of infractions during this period. These include speeding, not wearing a motorcycle helmet and driving without a fastened seatbelt.
One of the primary aims of the initiative is to prevent car accident injuries and deaths from occurring due to reckless driving on the state’s roads.
The campaign comes just two weeks after a similar scheme was initiated over the Christmas and New Year period, which included high-visibility markings on the state’s fleet of police cars.
NSW Police noted that 1,017 drivers were stopped for speeding on the first day of Operation Safe Return. This was 24 per cent higher than the corresponding day in last year’s campaign.
Traffic and Highway Patrol Command Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith highlighted the importance of road safety in NSW, with 17 deaths occurring in the state over the last eight days.
“When we launched this operation we were asking motorists to answer one simple question: will you make a Safe Return this long weekend,” Mr Smith explained.
“Based on the behaviour we have witnessed yesterday (Friday 23), that question is even more relevant.”
Car accidents in NSW
Despite the best efforts of NSW Police, there was still one death on the opening day of Operation Safe Return. A 66-year-old man died in Liverpool after he was hit by a car.
In addition, 184 major crashes occurred, although this was more than 40 fewer than the 225 incidents recorded last year.
One of Friday’s most notable offenders was a man arrested for travelling 40 km/h over the speed limit in Rozelle. Officers attempted to pull the 33-year-old over for travelling at 86 km/h in a 60 km/h zone.
However, the individual then accelerated to over 100 km/h in an attempt to elude police. When his car was held up in traffic, he was removed from the vehicle and arrested.
It was later revealed that he was disqualified from driving until 2042. The man was then taken to Newtown Police station and charged with six driving-related offences.
These included using an unregistered vehicle, driving while banned and failing to comply with a request to stop. His car was also uninsured.