Gridlock angers holidaymakers

ENGINES and tempers boiled over yesterday as queues of more than 20 kilometres met northbound holidaymakers during the annual Easter gridlock.

At the height of snarls at Hexham and Bulahdelah, motorists were taking nearly four hours to travel from the northern end of the F3 Freeway at Beresfield to the northern outskirts of Bulahdelah.

The gridlock continued for most of the day, easing about 4pm as the majority of travellers were closing in on their destinations.

The tales of the Easter long weekend’s hot, cross drivers came as police reported a dramatic rise in road infringements on the first day of Operation Tortoise.

Highway patrol officers handed out 213 infringement notices across the Hunter on Thursday, 99 more than for the same day last year.

Those fines did not include the 130 motorists caught speeding during the double demerit weekend, 10 more than last year.

Despite performing 117 more breath tests, police charged 14 people with drink-driving, seven less than last year.

Twelve people were caught not wearing seatbelts compared with three last year.

Across the state, police criticised drivers for thinking they were above the law with more than 3000 infringements handed out.

It included several motorists caught at high speed, with one of the alleged worst acts involving a learner driver who was clocked speeding at more than twice the legal limit while talking on his mobile phone, before almost knocking over a police officer in Sydney’s south.

The learner, 18, was detected travelling at 105km/h in a 50km/h zone in Kingsgrove on Thursday afternoon.

“This kind of behaviour is unacceptable and police will not tolerate such disregard for safety. That includes the safety of other motorists, pedestrians, cyclists as well as personal safety,” Assistant Commissioner John Hartley said.

Meanwhile a man, 61, died in a single vehicle crash in Sydney’s south-west yesterday.

The driver was dead when police arrived at the scene.

They had been alerted about 5.40am that a Mercedes van had run off Cowpasture Road into bushland.

The driver was the only person in the vehicle.

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