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‘Don’t let safety take a backseat’

To make sure everyone arrives home safely these holidays, police are calling out for backseat drivers to do their part and speak up, in order to save lives.

The unorthodox approach follows an alarming increase in passenger deaths when compared to 2016.

We have already lost 367 lives on NSW roads in 2017. That is 367 families who are missing a loved one these holidays.

Tragically, 76 of the lives lost were passengers, who are often innocent victims to road trauma. This number is an increase of 24 passengers killed in crashes when compared to 2016.

Operation Safe Arrival starts at Midnight tomorrow (12.01am on Friday 15 December 2017), and will continue until 11.59pm on New Years Day (Monday 1 January 2018).

Double demerits will be in place between Friday 22 December 2017 and Monday 1 January 2018 for all speeding, mobile phone, seatbelt and motorcycle-helmet offences and officers will be out in large numbers during the operation enforcing all types of dangerous driving behaviours.

Deputy Commissioner Specialist Support, Catherine Burn, said passengers play a major role in keeping themselves, their drivers, and other road-users safe these holidays.

“In my view, one of the most tragic statistics is that 76 of the people who have died in 2017 were passengers in vehicles. That is 24 more passengers who have died in 2017 when compared to 2016.

“This is an especially tragic statistic, because it shows that innocent people are dying on our roads because of the poor decisions of people behind the wheel.

“During Operation Safe Arrival, we want everyone to remember not to let safety take a backseat. This means that we want drivers to think about the innocent passengers in their cars and other cars before they make a stupid decision to speed, pick up a phone, drink and drive, or drive tired.

“It also means we want passengers to be a backseat driver. Passengers need to speak up if they see their driver speeding, using their phone, or drinking before driving. They also need to offer to drive if their driver is tired or has been driving for a long period of time.

“We had 16 people die during the same operation in 2016, and it’s not good enough. The message is simple, everyone needs to do their part and look out for each other, so that everyone can arrive home safely,” Deputy Commissioner Burn said.

Minister for Police and Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant said while December is typically a time for celebration, it is also a time when tragedies can happen.

“Our first responders do an incredible job, especially at this time of year when they sacrifice time with their own friends and loved ones to respond to all kinds of incidents. But they should not have to break the devastating news of a road fatality to any family member or loved one.

“Do not let careless behaviour ruin what should be a time for celebration and fun. Make this holiday period memorable for all the right reasons,” Mr Grant said.

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey said people across NSW should enjoy the holidays with road safety in mind at all times and urged both drivers and passengers to play their part in making sure everyone has a ‘Safe Arrival’ at their destination.

“The Christmas and New Year holiday period is a wonderful time of the year when many families and friends get together to celebrate the festivities – often by commuting longer than usual distances on unfamiliar roads,” Mrs Pavey said.

“But the silly season isn’t an excuse to be silly. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and have a nap, don’t push on. Share the driving if you can. If you’re planning to have a drink, make sure you have a Plan B and of course always wear a seatbelt – it could save your life.

“Road safety is a shared responsibility and we all have a part to play in preventing these crashes on our roads. If you see unsafe behaviour – and you can prevent it – please do something about it!”

NSW Ambulance Chief Executive Dominic Morgan said paramedics approached the holiday season dreading the inevitable call to a road tragedy.

“Road accidents are among the worst jobs our paramedics get called out to.

“The injuries inflicted by high-speed crashes are particularly severe and often result in death or serious injury.

“Tragically, it’s not uncommon for our paramedics to treat young children after a family road trip has gone horribly wrong.

“The best present you can give your family this Christmas is your safe arrival,” Commissioner Morgan said.

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Assistant Commissioner, Paul McGuiggan urged people to take extra care when driving to their holiday destination.

“In 2017 alone FRNSW crews have attended more than 2,000 crashes on NSW roads where drivers or passengers were injured or needed to be extracted from vehicles,” Assistant Commissioner McGuiggan said.

“Some of these people have suffered horrific injuries and some have tragically died. Lives have been forever altered by crashes that could have been avoided.

“Drive safely over the holidays, so we don’t have to rescue you from a wreckage this Christmas.”

Source: NSW Police

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