Tensions are brewing between the NSW Police Minister Yasmin Catley and the NRMA, after the minister issued a scolding to “reckless and criminal” drivers who were risking the lives of their fellow motorists.
On Wednesday, Ms Catley called on the NRMA to tell “their members to slow down and obey the road rules, instead of criticising the tireless efforts of our hardworking police”.
“NRMA should join us, support our police and lay the responsibility where it belongs – at the feet of reckless and illegal driver behaviour,” she said.
The war of words comes as more people are dying on NSW roads. Statistics from Transport NSW reveals that as of September 13, 255 lives have been lost on NSW roads, compared to 194 deaths in the same period in 2022.
However, NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury has taken umbrage with the Police Minister’s comments, and denied they were criticising the police.
“The NRMA released research outlining the strong public support for the work of the NSW Police Highway Patrol in reducing the road toll, that research showed overwhelmingly that the public supports that work and wants more of it,” he said.
“This is long-held view of the NRMA as we remain huge supporters of the police. Claims that contradict that position are false and will do nothing to save lives.”
Earlier in the week, the motoring authority said the government “must invest in effective enforcement and improve our roads,” after a survey of 3305 NRMA members in NSW and ACT found 65 per cent believed visibly marked police cars were the most effective way to nip rule-flouting motorists.
90 per cent of respondents were also in favour of more visible police on our roads.
Mr Khoury said the NRMA would continue advocating for increased police presence on the roads to ensure drivers were doing the right thing.
“We are committed to working with all policy makers on reducing the road toll and encouraging people to do the right thing behind the wheel. The public deserves nothing less,” he said.
“The NRMA maintains its position that by providing more resourcing to the police, they can continue to do their excellent work, especially across regional NSW where 70 per cent of the deaths occurred.”
On Wednesday, Ms Catley issued a call to arms for drivers to “take responsibility” and follow the rules.
Figures obtained under Operation Katana – a high visibility police targeting dangerous road behaviour – revealed police issued 15,689 offences to NSW drivers in the last 12 days alone, with more than a third (5441) of those offences related to speeding.
“Look at what police have done under the Operation Katana road blitz in just the last 12 days,” Ms Catley said.
“These numbers speak for themselves. I honestly can’t imagine what more our police can do than this massive effort.”
Ms Catley said she was “sick of every problem being blamed on police” and urged drivers to “take responsibility and slow down”.
“Police are out in force, proactively targeting reckless drivers, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, driving using their phones, driving at speeds insanely over the limit,” she said.
“What more can they do?”