john mccutcheon

Clarence Valley’s drink driving shame

THE Clarence Valley has been named as one of the state's worst drink-driving regions for 2014.

Since January 2014, 672 people were caught driving with excessive alcohol reading in the Coffs/Clarence region, making the area third overall for drink-driving detections in NSW.

The Sydney Northern Beaches had the highest number with 759 people charged, followed by the Tweed/Byron area at 753.

Across NSW, one in 285 random breath tests returned a positive result.

Police conducted 6,567,926 random breath tests last year, charging 21,865 with alcohol-related offences.

Coffs/Clarence crime manager Detective Inspector Darren Jameson said drink-drinking continued to be a major issue across the region, but a strong local focus on driving in the past 12 months would have attributed to the higher detection rate.

"The command will continue to focus on both mobile as well as stationary RBT sites across the command," he said.

"The underlying issue in the command remains, which is drugs and alcohol. I've always said they are the drivers of crime."

Insp Jameson said local police would continue to use every strategy at hand to reduce drug and alcohol issues in the community.

The drink-driving figures were release in line with the conclusion of Operation Saturation, a statewide operation which was initiated in response to the state's rising road toll, and the start of Operation Drink Drive 1.

The operation will have a major focus on drink-driving, but also target drug-affected motorists, fatigue, seatbelts and speeding.

Traffic and Highway Patrol commander, Assistant Commissioner John Hartley, said police would continue their focus on the road toll in light of the success of Operation Saturation, measured in the reduction of serious crashes.

"For the same period in 2014, there were 692 serious injury and fatal crashes on our roads," he said.

"As a result of this operation, these numbers were reduced to 431, which shows this operation has been both effective as a deterrent to poor driver behaviour, and in reducing the cost of serious injury and fatal crashes on our roads."

The 2015 road toll, at 50 fatalities from 46 crashes, is five deaths and seven crashes fewer than this time last year.

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