TRAGEDY: Fourteen lives have been lost on Clarence Valley roads in 2016.
TRAGEDY: Fourteen lives have been lost on Clarence Valley roads in 2016. Jarrard Potter

Driver behaviour to blame for shocking road toll

POOR driver behaviour is to blame for one of the worst years on Clarence Valley roads, according to Traffic and Highway Patrol Command Chief Inspector Phillip Brooks.

So far this year in the Coffs/Clarence Local Area Command there has been 17 fatal crashes and 18 deaths, with 14 of those deaths occurring on Clarence Valley roads.

Last year there were just five fatalities.

This year 349 lives have been lost on NSW roads, up 33 from this time last year, and Chief Inspector Brooks said it is high risk driver, rider, cyclist and pedestrian behaviour on the road that is causing the death toll to rise.

"We know it's speeding, drink and drug driving, driving fatigued or distracted with a mobile phone that is causing what are these very sad and tragic events on our roads," he said.

"Throughout the previous winter and upcoming summer, it's quite apparent in what has been perfect driving conditions that road users have become complacent, and it's quite obvious that people are taking perfect driving conditions for granted."

Chief Inspector Brooks said the Traffic and Highway Command's Facebook page is updated by photos taken by highway patrol officers of some of the poor driver behaviour they witness every day on the road.

"They're posting these photos as their own perpetual message to take care on the road," he said.

"We also take private messages about poor driver behaviour from individuals who want to tell us about bad behaviour they've seen on the road."

Traffic and Highway Patrol officers have been conducting a high-visibility operation since last week, targeting speeding, illegal mobile phone use, seatbelt and helmet compliance, driver fatigue and drink and drug driving.

Centre for Road Safety executive director Bernard Carlon said it was imperative that road users took responsibility for their actions.

"We have pleaded with motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians time and time again," he said.

"We believe the only acceptable road toll is zero and we need everyone to play their part, to be smart and be safe when they're driving on and walking near roads.

"Fatigue-related road deaths have increased by about 52 per cent in the past year which is extremely worrying and fatalities where people haven't been wearing a seatbelt have increased by about 47 per cent on last year."

Operation Saturation, which is part of Operation Toward Zero, will conclude on Sunday.

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