Coffs Clarence Chief Inspector Joanne Reid is urging safety on the roads after the region leads the state in road fatalities so far this year.Photo: Adam Hourigan
Coffs Clarence Chief Inspector Joanne Reid is urging safety on the roads after the region leads the state in road fatalities so far this year.Photo: Adam Hourigan

WHY WON’T YOU LISTEN? Police frustrated over road fatalities

IT'S been a horror start to the year on Clarence Valley roads, with four people killed in three crashes, and police are growing frustrated that drivers are not heeding their road safety messages.

Coffs/Clarence Police District Chief Inspector Joanne Reid said the Coffs/Clarence area has recorded the highest number of road fatalities to start the year across the NSW Police Northern Region, which covers from Newcastle to the Queensland border.

Chief Insp Reid said despite repeated road safety messages, people were still dying as a result of drink driving, speeding or driving while tired.

"So far this year has been a horrendous year for fatalities, and clearly the message isn't cutting through," she said.

"The fact that we're in 2020 and we still have to talk about alcohol, fatigue and speed is incredibly alarming to police and to the community."

NSW Centre for Road Safety data revealed 10 people were killed in crashes on Clarence roads during 2019.

Coffs Clarence Chief Inspector Joanne Reid is urging safety on the roads after the region leads the state in road fatalities so far this year.Photo: Adam Hourigan
Coffs Clarence Chief Inspector Joanne Reid is urging safety on the roads after the region leads the state in road fatalities so far this year.Photo: Adam Hourigan

Chief Insp Reid said drivers need to change their attitudes if the pattern of people dying on Clarence roads was to stop.

"People are making that conscious decision to drink alcohol or to have a lack of sleep or decide to put their foot down, which is why we're not calling them accidents," she said.

"They're a crash and people are dying.

"If that doesn't cause people alarm, I don't know what does."

Chief Insp Reid said distraction from mobile phones was becoming more prevalent in fatal crashes.

"One of the first thing we're doing now in our investigations in fatalities is examining mobile phones and if they were being used," Chief Insp Reid said.

"Even though new laws have come in, and there's going to be mobile phone detection cameras deployed, we're still not seeing a reduction in mobile phone usage and it only takes a split second for something to go wrong.

"It's exasperating for police, I don't know what it's going to take for the community as a whole to get the message that everyone needs to take more care on the roads and make better decisions."

With an increasing number of fatalities being recorded on local roads, Chief Insp Reid said there was no place for complacency behind the wheel.

"You could drive a road a million times, it only takes a split second, one mistake or losing concentration for just a moment and that changes everything," she said.

Chief Insp Reid said police will continue to patrol highways and backroads in an effort to bring down the road toll.



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