Hunter Valley Police District encouraging 'mateship' on the roads as Operation Safe Return begins

HUNTER Valley Police District is urging local motorists to look after themselves and others in the true spirit of "mateship" this Australia Day long weekend, as they launch their high-visibility presence on NSW roads.

Operation Safe Return started at 12.01am on Friday, January 24, and concludes at 11.59pm on Monday, January 27.

Double demerits will be in force throughout the period for speeding, seatbelt, mobile phone and motorcycle helmet offences.

During Operation Safe Return 2019, three people lost their lives on NSW roads; the same number of fatalities as the 2018 operation.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott urged communities to celebrate Australia Day safely.

"Although Australia Day is a time to enjoy time with friends and family, we also tragically see an increase in road trauma and collisions," he said.

"NSW communities have seen more than their fair share of heartache over the summer.

"Our appeal is for motorists not to add to that by way of unnecessary road trauma.

"Take care of yourself and family, look out for your mates, and don't take any risks that would put your life or someone else's life at risk."

Traffic and Highway Patrol Command's Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy said that it was more important than ever for people to look out for their fellow road users.

"The devastating fires that have affected our state over the past few months have shown how Australians can band together and support each other through thick and thin," he explained.

"We are asking drivers to extend upon this and draw upon the spirit of Aussie mateship to look out for each other on the roads, by being responsible and not taking unnecessary risks.

"This means staying well-rested by having a good night's sleep before you start your journey, taking regular breaks, not drink or drug driving, and sticking to or below the speed limit.

"By neglecting these responsibilities, not only are you putting yourself at risk; but you are also risking the lives of your passengers and everyone else you encounter throughout your journey."

Throughout the entirety of Operation Safe Return 2019:

  • 4584 infringements were issued for speeding,
  • 8257 other infringements were issued,
  • 478 people were charged with drink-driving,
  • 190,870 breath tests were conducted
  • Three lives were lost