Road Users: PLEASE SLOW DOWN.

Minister for Roads and Freight Duncan Gay today pleaded with motorists and riders to slow down and keep safe on NSW roads, following the alarming series of fatalities in recent weeks.

Mr Gay was joined by Acting Assistant Commissioner NSW Police Stuart Smith, NRMA President Kyle Loades, General Manager Centre for Road Safety Marg Prendergast, NSW Motorcycle Alliance’s Dave Cooke and Motorcycle Council of NSW’s Christopher Burns.

“We started the year so well, on track to build on two record lows and save even more lives from tragedy, but sadly the last few weeks have been heartbreaking,” Mr Gay said.

“We’re just over a month into the year and sadly many families across our state are grieving the loss of loved ones, with 44 people already killed on our roads.

“As a result I have asked NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol to conduct an intensive high visibility operation, which is fully funded by the Community Road Safety Fund, which redirects speed camera fines back into the community to make our roads safer.

“Police will undertake Operation Saturation – a crackdown starting Saturday 7 February to Wednesday 18 February to tackle unsafe driving behaviour including speeding, drink and drug driving, mobile phone use and seat belt offences.

“In particular, Police will target the top 10 areas that have shown the highest number of fatal crashes in 2014 and 2015 to date.

“The January road toll is four deaths higher than the same time last year and it’s devastating to consider complacency could be a huge reason for the spike,” he said.

“Risk taking at high speed is a deadly combination and we’re appealing to people to consider just how fine the line is between a bad judgement and a death on our roads,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said.

“We know if everyone’s vigilant, does the right thing and prepares for every journey we can bring the toll back down.

“We need everyone’s help to reduce road deaths – this is a heartbreaking start to the year,” he said.

“As the state’s motoring body we echo the appeal for motorists to take every precaution, every single step to ensure they make it home alive,” Mr Loades said.

“There are so many measures motorists should be taking before they start an engine including planning their journey and their rest stop, testing their tired self, not driving after drinking, ensuring they have a hands free device for their mobile phone and making sure all passengers are wearing a seatbelt.

“These are very simple measures and we know they save lives.

“The NRMA welcomes this new high visibility campaign, we know that education coupled with enforcement is a powerful mix for helping change driver behaviour and that is something we all want to see,” he said.

“Compared with the same time last year, we have seen an increase in fatalities in January on weekends, during the afternoons and evenings,” Ms Prendergast said.

“Most alarming is the significant increase in motorcycle fatalities. We know 13 motorcyclists died last month, which is more than double the figure for January last year and the highest number since at least 1996.

“We seem to have a problem with middle-aged riders, with two out of three of these motorcycle fatalities aged between 40 to 59 years.

“Most fatal motorcycle crashes so far this year are happening on weekends on country roads – so just think about that when you come to a rural bend or stretch.

“Don’t let that ride be your last – make the right decisions, manage risk and speed, stay alert, wear the right protective gear and Ride to Live.

“We also need drivers to watch out and check twice for motorcyclists, especially when making turns at intersections,” she said.

“Ride to Live is useful and relevant and we worked closely with the Centre for Road Safety to put it together and make sure it appealed to riders and motorists,” Mr Cooke said.

“This awful start to 2015 just reminds us that we riders must always do everything possible so that we don’t just enjoy the ride, but we also get home to our families,” he said.

“Do yourself a favour and have a good look at the Ride to Live website to refresh your knowledge,” Mr Burns said.

“The website is a fantastic interactive hub and provides info on things like how to manage risk, how to select the right helmet and protective gear and get tips on a range of topics like braking distances and cornering,” he said.

Visit Ride to Live: ridetolive.nsw.gov.au