Sergeant Jarrod French of Coffs Clarence Highway patrol directs drivers in for Random Breath Testing at Ulmarra.
Sergeant Jarrod French of Coffs Clarence Highway patrol directs drivers in for Random Breath Testing at Ulmarra. Adam Hourigan Photography

Police target backroads in highway operation

THIS Christmas period the NSW Police's main focus by will be on backroads leading to key coastal areas such as Grafton and Coffs Harbour.

As delays on your Christmas road trip are inevitable police are encouraging drivers travelling to the state's far north to factor extra time into trip planning.

Operation Safe Arrival, the Christmas and New Year road safety enforcement operation, starts at 12.01am tomorrow and concludes at 11.59pm on Tuesday January 1 2019.

10 lives were lost In 2017/2018 in crashes on northern NSW roads in the Operation Safe Arrival period.

Double demerits in force throughout the period for speeding, seatbelt, mobile phone and motorcycle helmet offences.

Far North Region Traffic Tactician Inspector Peter McMenamin said police would focus on main and backroads leading to key coastal areas such as Grafton and Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree/Foster and the Gold Coast.

"In particular I would like to encourage our overseas visitors to take some time and get to know our road rules and the laws surrounding drink driving," Insp McMenamin said

"What we want to do is combat the belief that you can have a few drinks in a small community and not be pulled over for a RBT."

Insp McMenamin said when people were impatient they sometimes took risks in their vehicles that placed them, and their loved ones, more at risk of being in a crash.

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said it wasn't worth taking the risk this holiday season.

"With Christmas and New Year just days away, there are plenty of people out on the roads enjoying celebrations and travelling to see friends and family," Ms Pavey said.

"If you're one of them, make sure you plan, get a good night's sleep, drive to the conditions, stick to the speed limit and never ever risk driving if there's a chance you could be affected by drugs or alcohol.

Cousin of the Falkholt family, who died after a two vehicle crash on Boxing Day 2017, Daniella Dare said her family are facing their first holiday season without a whole branch of their family tree.

"There's nothing that will replace them or bring them back," she said.

"The most we can do is ask that their deaths and tragic end, wasn't in vain. Please, when you are on the roads this festive season, slow down, take a break and drive with your full attention."

"It's hard to ever imagine that such a horrible event could happen to you or your family - but as so many other families this year have also realised - crashes can happen anytime, anywhere and to anyone," she said.

She never thought her family would become the poster family of tragedy and she hopes their suffering might just spark a change in the way people conduct themselves on the roads over the season.