It’s been an absolutely devastating year for the region as road fatalities tipped over double last year’s toll in December.
More than 20 people died on the Riverina’s roads in 2017 compared to nine in 2016.
From December 15 to midnight December 31, highway patrol charged 387 people with speeding, 21 people with seat belt offences and conducted 12,727 breath tests in Wagga alone.
“The road safety message is like a lock on the door, it keeps the honest people out but road safety messages will only be heard by those who want to hear them,” acting senior supervisor from the Southern Region Highway Patrol Andrew Palmowski said.
“People need to take responsibility for their actions, police can only do so much and be in so many places at once.”
Across the southern region of operations including the Riverina there was a reduction in speeding (down 140) and seat belt offences (down 23), however other offences such as mobile phone use and unsecured loads went up by 393.
The road toll in NSW for the Christmas to New Year period was almost double last year’s.
“The year has started badly on NSW roads, after three people died in separate crashes in the early hours of the morning,” Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy, commander of the Traffic and Highway Patrol Command said.
“We have now lost 28 lives during Operation Safe Arrival and the holiday period has been nothing short of a tragedy for everyone involved.”
Early Monday morning a woman in Yagoona was hit and killed in a parked car, a 54-year-old pedestrian was killed at New Lambton near Newcastle, and a 75-year-old man died at Copmanhurst near Grafton after his vehicle left the roadway and rolled onto its roof.
Police were disappointed to report increases in all offences throughout Operation Safe Arrival.
A total of 19,104 drivers were caught speeding (up 813), 2,253 committed restraint offences (up 205) and there was an increase of 1,555 other infringements taking the total to 25,258.
However, senior sergeant Palmowski said it’s relieving to see a 41 less reported major crashes at 154 and 88 people injured down from 105 across the southern region.
“While it’s disturbing to see the number of charges, police make no apologies for having to deal with motorists in this fashion, providing them with education and enforcement is far better than the alternative,” he said.