Editorial: Police express anguish at holiday road toll

Police say they are disappointed with the results of Operation Safe Arrival after 28 were killed during the 18-day operation.

The operation commenced at 12.01am on Friday 15 December 2017 and concluded at 11.59pm on Monday January 1, 2018.

The road toll for 2017 for NSW was 392, an increase of 12 on 2016. 

Factors cited by the Centre for Road Safety as the big three killers on our roads this year have been speeding, fatigue and drink-driving.

Some 168 deaths have been attributed to speed, 75 to fatigue and 45 to drink-driving. 

Unfortunately, 180 of the deaths occurred on country roads, an increase of 22 on the previous year. 

On January 2, A police spokesperson said their disappointment often turned into frustration, as they continued to see drivers put themselves and other road user’s lives at risk through dangerous decisions.

This is despite numerous warnings and an increased police presence on the roads.

Drivers making poor decisions was highlighted by senior police.  

“It is poor decisions that are killing people on our roads and it’s not just the person making poor decisions that are dying, they are often taking innocent people with them,” Deputy Commissioner Specialist Support Catherine Burn said. 

“Lives will continue to be lost if the community doesn’t work together and change their attitudes towards road safety.” 

“While we will continue enforce the road rules, we need everyone in the community to change their attitude toward road safety.”

Locally, police raised the issue of driver inattention as a major cause of accidents. 

Police Inspector Alison Brennan told the Post that accidents caused by driver inattention were becoming ‘all too common.’

“In Hume, most recent accidents have been caused by people taking their eyes off the road.”

“These single-vehicle accidents are becoming all too common, where it is not speed or alcohol - it is just drivers taking their eyes off the road,” she said.

But driver inattention is hard to police.

“We can pull people over and test them for alcohol and speeding but we cant detect when people are just not paying attention,” Insp Brennan said. 

Though Operation Safe Arrival has drawn to a close, police have said they will be maintaining an increased presence on our roads right through to the end of the month.