The number of people killed on NSW roads so far this year is 20 per cent higher than at the same time last year, as police urge motorists to slow down during the Easter holiday period.

As of Thursday night, the state’s road toll was 107, up from 89 last year when the notoriously busy long weekend had already passed. There were eight fatalities on NSW roads over Easter last year.

”We have seen fatalities fall in NSW over the past five years, and 2013 was a record low of 339,” NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said. ”This is an encouraging sign that road users are starting to change their driving behaviour, but we can never lose sight of the fact that, so far this year, 107 people have been killed on our roads.

”We are still detecting speeding, drink-driving and distracted motorists on a daily basis.”

Double demerit-point penalties for speeding, seatbelt and motorcycle helmet offences came into effect at midnight Thursday until midnight Monday as part of Operation Tortoise. They also applied for the Anzac Day long weekend.

”We are hoping for … zero deaths this holiday period,” Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander Assistant Commissioner John Hartley said. ”That’s why our resources are out there today, yesterday and all next week continuing the process of making our roads safer.”

Concerned by the high number of fatalities in the early months of this year, when lives were being lost at a rate of more than one a day, police launched Operation Saturation, a statewide blitz that ran for six weeks at known trouble spots.

Police believed that operation, with more than 70,000 breath tests and more than 3300 speeding charges, saved up to five lives.

Police will also be targeting drunken violence and anti-social behaviour. Operation Unite will have additional police in Sydney’s CBD, Kings Cross, in and around pubs and clubs and on public transport.

NSW Police out in force after alarm at rising road toll