Related reading: Here’s how the figures looked in 2016
THE region’s top highway police officer has reported mixed results from motorists after a state-wide highway patrol operation wrapped up on Monday night.
Officers have been out in force since mid-December as part of Operation Safe Arrival, with police officials reporting a decline in statistics across the western highway patrol region.
In the Peel cluster, officers handed out 718 fines for speeding, while 33 people were caught not wearing seat belts.
There were 17,706 breath tests conducted in the Peel cluster area, with 116 charges laid from the 53,768 tests across the wider western region.
There were also 519 people fined for other offences, including mobile phones, and disobeying road signs in the Tamworth area.
“We are slightly down across the whole region, but we obviously would love to see the numbers a lot lower,” Western highway Inspector Peter McMenamin said.
“There is still no reason 33 people in the Peel Cluster should be wearing no seat belts.
“It can be put down to a lack of awareness. People could be too focused or too busy and not taking enough care and consideration for their own awareness.
“It was also pleasing to see that there was a slight decrease across the board in infringement notices.”
Inspector McMenamin said there were three fatal crashes recorded across the region this year, including the death of a 25-year-old man in a crash near Walcha on December 23.
“That is obviously something we are hoping to reduce and not increase,” he said.
“It’s tragic. We don’t want to see this any time, especially at this time of the year, it is quite sad for everyone concerned.”
While the holiday operation might be over, crews will still be out in force on our roads.
“There was a lot of traffic moving around on the major highways and back roads,” Inspector McMenamin said.
“The general behaviour was on par with last year but we would like see more people be compliant.
“The operation has finished and we are focusing on our normal routes and other operations.
“But you’re not going to see any less of us, we’ll do what we need to do to be moving through the cluster and ensuring the region is safe over the holiday period.”
The next major operation, Safe Return, will begin in late January.