Drive Drink free this Christmas

The Safer Roads Partnership are today warning people of the dangers of drink driving during the festive period. With the season of festivities now underway the Partnership, together with partner agencies, will be raising awareness of the consequences of drinking and driving.

The Partnership will be supporting the national THINK! Drink Drive campaign, with the main focus on young people (those aged between 17 and 29 years of ages). Young people are over represented in collision statistics in Shropshire. Figures from the Safer Roads Partnership indicate that 14% of fatal collisions in Shropshire had drink or drugs recorded as a contributory factor. Over the past 3 years* 60 people were killed or seriously injured in Shropshire as a result of collisions involving drink or drugs and 50% of drivers involved in collisions involving drink or drugs were under 30 years of age. The campaign is designed to reach out to young people to raise awareness of what could happen to them if they make the decision to drive after drinking.

The campaign will be promoted locally through various initiatives. Posters and other material will be targeted at local pubs and clubs throughout Shropshire designed to make people think about the consequences of drink or drug driving. The Partnership will be working closely with other agencies, in particularly road safety officers from Shropshire Council on other local initiatives.

At the heart of the activity is an online campaign blog which will tell the story of Amy, who gets breathalysed the morning after a Christmas party. The 12 blogs over the next three weeks up to Christmas will also reveal Amy’s feelings as she struggles to tell her ailing father, her boss at work and her pupils at the dance school and will take readers through the tension as she waits for the case to come to court.

The campaign supports the winter drink drive campaign undertaken by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and West Mercia Police, which also launches today (1st December).

The Safer Roads Partnership are working closely with West Mercia Police on their annual ‘Christmas Presence’ campaign and will be targeting their educational message in line with extra enforcement activity undertaken by West Mercia Police during the Christmas period.

Vicki Bristow, Communications Manager at the Safer Roads Partnership in West Mercia, says: “We are trying to get this very important message out to people, and especially young people, through outdoor advertising, social media and local initiatives from partner agencies. The campaign highlights the possible consequences of what could happen if a person decides to drink or drug drive. We would also ask people not to get into a car as a passenger if they suspect that the driver has been drinking or taking drugs. We realise that this can sometimes be difficult but would urge people to make the safe decision - it’s not worth risking your life for.”

Superintendent Matt Mead of West Mercia Police comments: “Cracking down on those who take drugs or drink and then drive is a year round commitment for West Mercia. However, we are very aware the festive season can present opportunities where people are tempted to drive after taking drugs or drinking. To combat this, extra patrols will be conducted in the run up to and over Christmas and New Year, in a bid to tackle those who commit the unacceptable act of drinking or drug driving.”

“Worryingly, and despite many warnings over the years about the dangers of drink/drug driving, there are still far too many reckless drivers ignoring the devastating consequences. Alcohol and drugs both affect your ability to judge speed and distances accurately and slow down your reaction time. If you are tempted to drive under the influence of drink or drugs this Christmas then spare a thought for your family and friends and think hard about what you will put them through if you are badly hurt or killed in a crash.”

Councillor Martin Taylor-Smith, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for strategic planning and transport, said: “We fully support this important initiative and our Road Safety Education team and supporting partners will be carrying out our local campaign in support of the regional/national Don’t Drink & Drive campaign”.

Shane Gazey, Risk Reduction Officer for Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service says; "Thinking about the consequences of your actions may not be the main priority during the festive period. However, people’s lives can be changed forever when somebody decides to drive after drinking."

Press release by The Safer Roads Partnership in West Mercia.

1st December, 2010