CRACKDOWN: Police conducted more than 35,000 breath tests over the Easter long weekend in the Northern Region. Picture: Marina NeilSENIOR police have given a cautious pass mark to Hunter motorists as the Easter long weekend came to a grinding halt on the roads.
The predictable traffic snarl at Hexham arrived on Monday morning and persisted throughout the day, with a three-kilometre queue adding up to 30 minutes travel time to the journey of holidaymakers on the home run.
The headache for motorists returned further down the M1 as motorists hit heavy delays south of Cooranbong before a frustrating five-kilometre stretch of roadworks between Tuggerah and Doyalson.
It came after a pleasing long weekend on the roads with no fatalities recorded on Hunter roads between Friday morning and Monday afternoon.
“It’s certainly a pass for serious motor vehicle accidents,” Senior Sergeant Justin Cornes, of Newcastle highway patrol, said.
“It’s been pleasing to see so many motorists doing the right thing. It is disappointing, though, that a small minority continue to display reckless behaviour.”
According to a running tally, police had conducted more than 35,000 breath tests and issued more than 1200 speeding tickets in the Northern Region on Monday afternoon.
They also issued 80 tickets for seat belt offences and 1680 “other infringements”.
All infringement areas are an increase on last year but officers attributed the rise to a strengthened police presence on the roads.
Operation Merritt saw all police, including specialist units, assigned with road safety duties.
Senior Sergeant Cornes said the number of seat belt offences concerned police because it showed some motorists were “missing the basics”.
“Seat belts are nothing new,” he said.
“They’ve been compulsory since 1971. No one has an excuse for not wearing one because this is driving 101.
“It’s a concern that so many people are not getting the basic stuff.”
On Saturday, highway patrol charged one female driverwith dangerous driving after she allegedly used breakdown lanes to skip traffic queues at Morisset.
She was arrested on Freemans Drive at Freemans Waterhole, with police allegedly seizing a pair of knuckle dusters.
According to police, the woman blamed other motorists for the traffic delays.
Police also deployed spike strips to stop a 26-year-old man after a police pursuit on The Bucketts Way atTinonee on Saturday.