Latest figures show Byron Bay is losing its reputation as the drink-drive capital of NSW.
They show charges for the peak holiday month of January this year were down more than 40 per cent on the same period last year, with the figures for February down by almost 70 per cent on the previous year.
The dramatic drop in drink-driving charges in the town has shown the value of the Nightrider bus service, according to the Byron Bay Liquor Accord.
Accord spokesman Luke Thomas said the drop coincided with the introduction of the service.
“This is an incredible result achieved in such a short timeframe,” he said.
“It clearly demonstrates that there has been a desperate need among the local community for a low-cost, alternative late-night transport system.
“It is now imperative that the Byron Bay Nightrider becomes an ongoing service to the local community on weekends.
“Permanently removing so many drink-drivers from our roads will save lives.”
Tweed-Byron Police licensing co-ordinator Senior Constable Grant Seddon said while it was too early to say whether the Nightrider service was a major factor in the drop in charges, it was still an ‘excellent’ result.
Senior Constable Seddon said there would be a better indication of its impact if the trial continued for another year and the figures dropped again.
He said the statistics showed it was local drivers who were the main offenders and not tourists.
Mr Thomas said there had been a solid base of customers using the service each week and it been well-received.
“Despite this, there is a fairly substantial shortfall in running costs,” he said.
“To ensure the continuity of the service, the Byron Bay Liquor Accord will need to secure additional funding or company sponsorship of the service.”
Mr Thomas said that drink-driving had been by far and away the worst long-term, alcohol-related crime issue at Byron Bay, which had recorded the highest rate in New South Wales for seven of the past eight years.
He said the accord would continue to address other areas where alcohol had an affect on the community and would be implementing strategies and policies that hopefully would achieve similar positive results.
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