Call for calm on roads after increase in deaths and drunks

Police already bracing for the yearly Boxing Day scramble up the coast have pleaded with drivers to take breaks and stay off the booze following a spike in deaths and drink drivers this festive season.
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There have already been 13 people killed on NSW roads since Operation Safe Arrival began on December 15 – nearly double the seven deaths during the same period last year and almost equalling the entire 14 fatalities during the traditional Christmas-New Year break, which ends on January 2.

The two latest deaths occurred on Saturday when a 26-year-old motorcyclist died near Coffs Harbour and a 25-year-old passenger of a BMW died when it collided head-on with a taxi van near Walcha.

Senior highway patrol officers have criticised some motorists for flouting drink-driving laws after a number of people allegedly registered high-range blood alcohol levels on Christmas Eve.

Police reported catching extremely drunk drivers from Summer Hill, Chatswood, Kiama Heights, Westmead and Seaforth in a 24-hour period.

A woman, 47, allegedly blew 0.243 – nearly five times the legal limit – after hitting three parked cars on Allman Avenue at Summer Hill about 5.30pm.

Another woman was charged with having a blood alcohol level of 0.216 after police saw her stop her car in the middle of a Chatswood street to let a passenger get out.

A 68-year-old woman had her licence suspended after allegedly returning a reading of 0.167 after she was seen to be driving erratically at Kiama Heights.

And a man, 36, was charged with high-range drink driving and disqualified driving after a crash at Seaforth that hospitalised a 75-year-old woman.

“The impact alcohol has on driver capabilities cannot be exaggerated; decades of research shows those who drink and drive are at far higher risk of being involved in an incident, and events overnight have demonstrated this,” Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy said.

“And the impact is not only on the driver concerned – we know at least three car owners are now inconvenienced after the Summer Hill crash.

“At least we can be thankful no one was injured.”

Police also reported charging a 34-year-old Portugal man after he was allegedly clocked doing 160km/h through 60km/h roadworks on Warringah Road at Frenchs Forest about 6.20am on Sunday.

The reports come before the annual race up the coast as families leave Christmas behind and head north for holidays.

Police have warned of a high presence in the usual problem areas along parts of the M1 Motorway and the Pacific Highway.

Double demerits remain until next week.