19 dead in year of grief on roads
WITH 428 road fatalities across NSW until December 2009, and 19 of those in the Coffs/Clarence police command, Acting Inspector Dallas Leven has one main Christmas wish.
He is hoping the 22 extra police granted to the northern region for Operation Safe Arrival will help prevent any more deaths.
Sergeant Leven is sick and tired of his officers making death calls to the loved ones of road crash victims.
“This is a time for people in the area to be enjoying the festive season, not making funeral arrangements for loved ones that die on the roads,” he said.
“We have local people dying on local roads – normally the fatal statistics show a high representation on the highway but this year local roads have claimed the lives of about half of people in the Coffs/Clarence LAC. And it’s disappointing that alcohol has played a factor in many of them.”
He noted roads such as the Summerland Way, Orara Way, Gwydir Highway and Wooli Road as potential black spots for flippant drivers.
Last year’s NSW road toll of 374 was a record low for 20 years, Sergeant Leven said.
Though still unacceptably high, it was a vast improvement to the high 600s of the mid-90s.
The Grafton-based Highway Patrol boss truly believes in his job, he said, because more police on the road helped slow people down and reduced some of the dangers such as drink-drivers.
However, police could not be everywhere and could not control things such as driver fatigue and poor judgement.
“Now is the time for people to take some personal responsibility for their driving habits and behaviour,” Sergeant Leven said.
“It’s unacceptable to continue to drink-drive, to exceed the speed limit, to drive without a seat belt on and to drive when tired.”
A strong advocate of the Stop Revive Survive campaign, Sergeant Leven encouraged motorists to take advantage of the bikkies and coffee on offer on the major highways.
He also warned against driving too soon after a big night out.