Police praise driver behaviour but seatbelt offences up

GENERAL driver behaviour across the Western division during the statewide Operation Safe Arrival has been generally good but seatbelt offences were inexplicably up, police say.

The Western region encompasses three clusters – Chifley (including Bathurst, Lithgow, Orange, Parkes, Cowra and Forbes), Dubbo (including Broken Hill, Bourke, Nyngan, Cobar) and Barwon (Boggabilla, Walgett, Condoblin, Gulargambone, Moree, Narrabri) – with Barwon encompassing Oxley Local Area Command, Barwon LAC and New England LAC.

Acting region traffic tactician for Western, Acting Inspector Peter McMenamin, said a breakdown in individual commands would not be available until after the operation ends at midnight on Friday, but the Western region had done 35,608 breath tests up until  midnight on January 1.

To the same time, Oxley LAC had recorded 133 speeding offences, New England 168 and Barwon 58, he said.

“Obviously, those differences there are indicative of different traffic flows,” Acting Inspector McMenamin said.

Speeding offences across the Western division were down by 72 but seatbelt offences had increased by nine.

A total of 72 other tickets had been written out for things like defective tyres and inoperable number plate lights. There were 61 drink-driving offences across the Western region – 27 less than last year.

Acting Inspector McMenamin was surprised by the better numbers but said it seemed like finally the police message of safety and driving to conditions during the holidays was getting through to the driving public.

“Traditionally, with all the advertising and campaigning that we do, it comes across that we don’t get much reaction ... but this year across the board to be down I think it’s good,” he said. 

A total of 6915 breath tests were completed up to January 1 in the New England LAC, 3464 in Oxley LAC and 2109 in Barwon LAC.

There were 18 fewer crashes reported across the Western region this year than last year. 

“Less people were injured in those crashes; however, fatalities for those crashes have stayed the same, at three for the region,” Acting Inspector McMenamin said.

“I think you’ll find, though, that ours were up a fair bit in Oxley (because of multiple fatalities).

“From all the highway patrol police I’ve spoken to across the region, the information they’ve given me is that driver behaviour is generally better – but the increase in seatbelt offences is incomprehensible, it just shouldn’t be happening.”

New England LAC spokesman Acting Sergeant Graham Brown said nine seatbelt offences had been recorded so far in his LAC.

“I think you’ll find a lot of the seatbelt offences would be local drivers,” Acting Sergeant Brown said. 

But he was pleased with driver behaviour.

“(It was) very good, especially the travelling motorists. We only had two serious accidents in the New England ... I’m very happy, at this stage, with driver behaviour,” he said.

He said the next operation, Operation Safe Return, would start midnight January 24 in the New England LAC but started around the rest of the state a day later.

“We always start a day earlier to take into account holiday traffic but also the Tamworth Country Music Festival as well,” he said.

Operation Safe Return will run until midnight January 28.

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