Those who are prepared to risk drinking and driving will be caught say Wiltshire Police as the annual Christmas Drink and Drug Driving Campaign is launched this week.
All Wiltshire Police officers and members of Tri Force Roads Policing Unit will be conducting high profile roadside checks at all times of the day and night, to catch those who pose a huge risk to themselves and the lives of other road users.
Although casualties caused by drink driving have fallen dramatically over the past 50 years, there were still 240 deaths (14% of all road fatalities) due to drink driving in 2014.
Officers will also be screening for drugs at the roadside as it has been found that drivers who have consumed both drugs and alcohol are 23 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than sober drivers.
Sergeant Gavin Brewster, of the Wiltshire Road Safety Unit, said: “Christmas is a busy time of the year with lots of social events taking place. We want people to enjoy the festive season however it’s important that they plan ahead and make arrangements to get home safely when out and about.”
“If people choose to drink alcohol excessively or take drugs before getting behind the wheel we will catch them. We encourage our public to report those they know to be doing this via our drink drive hotline or Crimestoppers. We will actively target any drivers we suspect to be driving under the influence.”
Assistant Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said: “Christmas is a time for celebration and whilst I don’t want to discourage people from having a good time, it is vital to stress the importance of not getting behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking or taking drugs. It is as simple as that. Plan ahead – if you think you will be having a drink, make sure you arrange a lift home or take enough money for a taxi.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson, said: “I fully support Wiltshire Police in its determination not to tolerate motorists who take the risk of driving while unfit through drink or drugs.
“The message is that anyone who thinks of getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs will run the terrible risk of endangering pedestrians, cyclists other drivers and their passengers.
“Police forces now have smart detection devices to screen for a range of drugs and they are adopting an intelligence-led approach, combined with local knowledge, to locate the dangerously irresponsible minority who seem prepared to ruin their lives and those of other road users at what should be a time of peace and goodwill.”
As a member of the Wiltshire and Swindon Road Safety Partnership, Wiltshire Police, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue, Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council will be holding Drink/ Drug Drive Roadshows around the county in order to highlight the dangers of drink/ drug driving. As part of the roadshow a crashed car from a fatal Road Traffic Collison will be used as an educational tool, along with a drink drive simulator which allows members of the public the opportunity to see how alcohol affects their ability to drive. The dates for these will be:
• 19 December 2016 SSE building, Swindon,
• 22 December 2016 outside the Guild Hall, Salisbury.
The campaign aims to educate drivers about the dangers of drinking and taking drugs before getting behind the wheel and runs throughout the month of December to Sunday 1 January 2017. It is being launched in support of a national campaign by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC).
The consequences of being caught drink or drug-driving which can include a 12-month driving ban, a large fine, a criminal record, and serious implications for insurance premiums, once the offender can drive again. It can also have a huge impact on personal lifestyle with people losing their jobs and suffering relationship breakdowns.
Anyone wishing to report an incident of drink/drug driving should call Wiltshire Police on 101 and select option 4 for the Drink Drive hotline.