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This Christmas, it won’t be a question of which rural road in NSW police will be on, but when they will be on it.

Operation Safe Arrival, the Christmas/New Year road safety-enforcement operation, starts at 12.01am on Friday 21 December 2018 and concludes at 11.59pm on Tuesday 1 January 2019.

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

As Friday is a designated school day, an additional demerit point on top of double demerits will also apply to all relevant school zone offences committed on that day.

During the 2017-2018 Operation Safe Arrival period, 31 lives were lost in 26 fatal crashes on NSW roads. Of the 31 lives lost, 19 were drivers, seven were passengers, two were motorcyclists and three were pedestrians.

About 42 per cent of fatal crashes during this time occurred between 11am and 5pm.

During operation Safe Arrival 2017-2018, police conducted 700,200 random breath tests and charged 1585 people with drink driving.

Traffic and Highway Patrol Command’s Assistant Commissioner, Michael Corboy, said back roads in rural areas will be a main target for police random breath testing.

“We will be travelling the same roads that you will this Christmas. Your trip is our trip.

“It will be those feeder roads that lead to our major arterial roads such as the Pacific, Newell and Princes highways,“ Assistant Commissioner Corboy said.

“Generally over Christmas we have looked at major ­thoroughfares getting in and out of Sydney, where a lot of crashes occur.

“This year it won’t be a question of which road will we be on, it will be a matter of when will we be on that stretch of road?”

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Mrs Melinda Pavey said while November had the lowest road toll recorded on record (since 1936) it’s important not to become complacent.

“If you’re on the roads this holiday season, I encourage everyone to be their best self behind the wheel, whether you’re driving in the city or travelling in the country, so you can return home to loved ones,” Mrs Pavey said

Motorists are also being reminded that from 17 September 2018, an extra demerit point was added to the penalty for illegally using a mobile phone while driving. This will add an additional two demerit points in double demerit periods resulting in a total of 10 demerit points for this offence.