Police in St Helens have today (Friday) launched its annual Christmas drink and drug driving campaign, urging motorists to think about ‘What’s the Cost?’.
Officers from the Roads Policing Unit and colleagues across the force will be stepping up patrols throughout the month-long campaign, which runs until New Year’s Day.
They will be paying particular attention to areas across Merseyside in the evenings and early in the morning, to target those who are risking driving the morning after drinking or taking drugs the night before.
The campaign is organised nationally and internationally, with the aim of reducing the number of road deaths and serious injuries on the roads of Merseyside and to raise the awareness of the dangers around driving while over the limit or impaired through drugs. During last year’s Christmas drink and drug driving campaign, officers carried out a total of 6,339 breath tests in Merseyside with 203 drivers being arrested.
Insp Keith Kellett, of Matrix Roads Policing, said: “The numbers of people drink driving on our roads is falling and it has become socially unacceptable to do so.
“We were encouraged last year to see 98 per cent of the people we tested were driving responsibly. Anyone considering taking any risks needs to consider the fact that people who drive at twice the current legal alcohol level are at least 50 times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision.
“During last year’s campaign, it was disappointing to see an increase in motorists drug driving. Therefore, as well as roadside breath tests, our officers will again be undertaking drug impairment tests.
“While they represent a small minority of drivers, I cannot stress enough the danger that these people present to themselves and other road users and pedestrians.
“Drug testing is now routine at the roadside in Merseyside and cannabis and cocaine are the two most common drugs used by drivers arrested in Merseyside. We have a very high detection rate in these cases of 98%.
“I also want to warn people about the risks of using medicinal drugs, particularly at this time of year with the advent of colder weather.
“Always read the instructions on the packaging carefully or speak to your GP or chemist. Taking certain medicines with alcohol can severely affect a person’s driving and if the label says “do not operate machinery”, that means do not drive.
“Our message to drivers is not to drink or take drugs and then drive, just simply pre-plan your evenings out, use public transport or have a designated non-drinking driver.
“And help out your friends and family by not offering a drink to someone who is planning to drive.
“Drink and drug driving accounts for hundreds of lives lost every year in the UK.
“If you know or suspect that someone is drink or drug driving, do not hesitate in reporting them anonymously via Crimestoppers. Road safety is everyone’s responsibility and your actions could be saving lives at the festive period and throughout the year.”
Chief Inspector Tony Jones, from Matrix Roads Policing Command said: “While the number of drivers arrested in Merseyside is significantly lower than the national average, there are still those that ignore our warnings and place themselves and others at risk.
“We would urge everyone to take on board our simple message this Christmas - avoid alcohol if you are driving, and if in doubt the morning after, do not drive.
“Think for a minute about the effects a drink or drug driving conviction will have on you and your family, the shame and ruin that it can bring. Do not think that you won’t get caught.
“Our officers will be conducting roadside tests morning, afternoon and evening and we arrest countless drivers every month throughout the year. Don’t chance it – if you’re driving, it’s better to have no alcohol and always think to yourself ‘what’s the cost?’.”