Coffs/Clarence police caught more than 6000 people speeding during the 2019/20 financial year, a new record. Photo: Trevor Veale / The Coffs Coast Advocate.
Coffs/Clarence police caught more than 6000 people speeding during the 2019/20 financial year, a new record. Photo: Trevor Veale / The Coffs Coast Advocate.

Less cars, more fines: Empty roads prompt spate of speeding

DESPITE the pandemic leading to a reduction in the number of cars on our regional roads, a puzzling statistic has emerged.

The number of speeding drivers caught on Coffs/Clarence roads has skyrocketed, with more than 200 extra drivers being fined in just one month.

A total of 541 fines were issued by police in 2020 compared with just 322 in July 2019.

Coffs-Mid Coast Traffic Inspector, Peter McMenamin said while it was hard to attribute the rise to any one factor, police believed the pandemic had been having an affect through the reduced traffic flow on local roads.

"It's a combination of a few different factors," he said.

"I think covid itself has had its hand (in it) with less vehicles on the road, people are perhaps not paying attention enough and we are seeing a significant increase in (speeding) and the category of speeding offences."

That meant not only were instances of speeding on the rise, so too was the type of speeding, with more people being caught at significantly higher speeds.

Insp. McMenamin said police had also noted an increase in the number of people not wearing seat belts and drink driving.

"Whether that is due to a decrease in traffic flow or people trying to get to destinations quicker it is probably a bit difficult to pin down, but those combination of factors are playing their part.

There was traffic chaos on September 4 when four cars were involved in a crash on the Pacific Highway.
There was traffic chaos on September 4 when four cars were involved in a crash on the Pacific Highway.

Just yesterday police issued another public plea for people to slow down after catching a 32-year-old man driving at approximately 175km/h in a 110km/h zone on the Pacific Highway at Urunga.

And on Saturday police fined a 19-year-old woman on her P-plates after she was caught driving 52km/h over the speed limit on Iluka Road.

The speeding ticket figures, released by Revenue NSW show the 2019/20 financial year was the most profitable on record with $2.25 million raised from drivers in the Coffs/Clarence region as a result of speeding.

In total, 6,919 people were caught, up nearly 2000 from 4,961 in 2018/19.

There is no doubt that the police force and State Government have worked hard to bring the state's road toll down by reducing the instances of speeding and drink driving however Insp. McMenamin agreed it was frustrating to see those numbers creep up from time to time.

He has been working in Highway Patrol both on the road and in management positions for more than 25 years.

"It is quite difficult (to see) over the years. You can imagine the amount of interactions we have with the public and we see the same types of behaviour that puts both themselves and their fellow road users at risk," he said.

"It can be quite frustrating.

"It is a matter of us working together … to make sure we are doing what we can and to work on new ways of getting the information out there."



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