Coffs Clarence Chief Inspector Joanne Reid is urging safety on the roads after the region leads the state in road fatalities so far this year. Photo: Adam Hourigan
Coffs Clarence Chief Inspector Joanne Reid is urging safety on the roads after the region leads the state in road fatalities so far this year. Photo: Adam Hourigan

Speeding costs Northern Rivers drivers big bucks, and lives

IN THE week that Coffs/Clarence police have urged drivers to take caution on the road, statistics show that the drivers aren't heeding their words.

And it's costing them a fortune.

Statistics from the NSW Office of Revenue show that up to January this financial year, 2129 speeding offences have been doled out by local police, with 3862 caught in the entire previous year.

The worst month on record this year for speeding offences was December with 430 people caught.

For those caught speeding this year, it has cost a combined total of $706,992

The total cost of the speeding fines in 2018's financial year was $1,313,753.

Coffs/Clarence Local Area Command Chief Inspector Joanne Reid said despite repeated road safety messages, people were still dying as a result of drink driving, speeding or driving while tired.

"So far this year has been a horrendous year for fatalities, and clearly the message isn't cutting through," she said.

"The fact that we're in 2020 and we still have to talk about alcohol, fatigue and speed is incredibly alarming to police and to the community."

NSW Centre for Road Safety data revealed 10 people were killed in crashes on Clarence roads during 2019.

Already this financial year, 193 have been fined for seat belt offences, with 330 for the total last year, costing drivers $$67,418.

There have been 72 fines for mobile phone offences up to January in this current period, costing the culprits $25,333 in total.

Chief Insp Reid said distraction from mobile phones was becoming more prevalent in fatal crashes.

"One of the first thing we're doing now in our investigations in fatalities is examining mobile phones and if they were being used," Chief Insp Reid said.

"Even though new laws have come in, and there's going to be mobile phone detection cameras deployed, we're still not seeing a reduction in mobile phone usage and it only takes a split second for something to go wrong.

This figure could soon rise with new mobile-phone detection technology being switched on around the state.

The new system which involves the installation of fixed detection cameras, as well as mobile trailer-based systems that travel throughout the state, has already sent warnings to more than 31,000 across the state since the start of the program.

The cameras this week were set to start fining drivers caught using their phones, with drivers fined $344 and given five demerit points for each offence.

The news isn't getting any better for how we travel around speed cameras either.

For the four speed cameras in the Richmond LAC, for this financial year up to January there have been 3679 fines costing the offenders a total of $1,031,570.

This compares to last financial year a total of 5743 offenders.

Woodburn's dual speed cameras catch the most amount of speeding drivers, with 2021 caught this year to January.

The newly installed Ulmarra speed camera in the Clarence Valley has now cost speeding motorists a total of $2,600,844 since it was switched on in December 2018.

This equates to 13,295 speeding fines, 6,255 in the seven months of this financial year alone.

According to the NSW government's Road Safety Plan 2021, someone is killed or hospitalised every 41 minutes on our roads.

Their plan is to reduce road fatalities from 2008-2010 levels by 30 per cent, and has an aspirational target of zero fatalities and serious injuries on our roads by 2056.

Minister for Transport Andrew Constance said that all money collected by speed cameras go into a community safety.