By CRAIG McTEAR
JOHN Patacko wants a fatality-free Easter weekend on his patch.
"We've had two recent deaths on our roads (Moonee on Monday and Bucca Road last month) and we don't want any more," the Coffs Harbour highway patrol sergeant said.
Operation Tortoise is now in full swing until midnight Monday and large numbers of police will be patrolling the Pacific Highway, Coramba Road, Waterfall Way and all townships in between.
Drink-driving, speeding, seatbelt offences and fatigue will be at the top of the list for police keen to catch lawbreakers.
Coffs Harbour highway patrol officers will be joined by Sydney-based motorcycle police during the blitz.
Double demerit points will apply to all speeding, seatbelt and helmet offences during this period.
Since the introduction of double demerits in 1997 there has been a 25 per cent reduction in fatalities in holiday periods such as long weekends, Christmas, New Year and Easter.
"If people are travelling on our roads at this time, they should obey all the road rules, and don't drink-and-drive," Sgt Patacko said.
"They should also plan their trips."
Police are thankful the traditionally hectic Easter weekend does not coincide with NSW school holidays this year, but they are still predicting the road will be busy.
"There will still be a lot of people travelling to visit family and friends and getting away for the break," Sgt Patacko said.
Operation North Roads will kick in on April 1 to coincide with the start of the Queensland school holidays, and it will also cover the NSW school holidays from April 9, through to Anzac Day on April 25.