WITH the countdown to Christmas underway, Dorset Police has launched its annual drink and drug driving campaign.
Staff from all three emergency services spoke to members of the public to raise awareness of the dangers of drink and drug driving and encourage people to be responsible over the festive season.
Constable Heidi Moxam, road casualty reduction co-ordinator for Dorset Police, said: “We promote safer driving all year, but during the Christmas period, there’s that possibility that people will be going to more functions and parties or for a quick drink after work.
“At Christmas there’s that chance you might have that one extra drink or take that risk, and we’re asking you to be responsible and to think about what you’re doing.”
She added: “Over the last 10 years, we’ve actually seen a decrease in drink driving, which is a great trend that we want to continue, but there’s been an increase in drug driving, primarily due to the fact we can prosecute more easily now.”
Throughout the month-long operation, officers will be requesting breath tests from all drivers involved in road traffic collisions, irrespective of whether or not they suspect a drink driving offence. Drivers can also expect to be tested during routine stop checks and if they are stopped for an offence. Drugwipe sample kits will be used on drivers suspected of being unfit to drive through drugs.
This year, anyone found to have alcohol in their system but who doesn’t blow over the drink drive limit will be given a free disposable breathalyser to help them make better choices in future.
Despite long-term reductions, drink and drug driving still accounts for 15 per cent of road deaths and almost 10,000 casualties nationally each year.
Steven Watkinson, operation commander for East Dorset at South Western Ambulance Service, said people who drink and drug drive “don’t realise the long-term effects” of being injured in a crash.
“It’s six to eight weeks off work with a lack of pay and means you’re not able to support your family over what is meant to be a happy time. It is even worse when it involves serious or life-changing injuries. I don’t want ambulance crews to be taking you or a loved one to hospital – or, worst case scenario, the mortuary.”
Phil Villain, road safety coordinator for DWFRS, said: We really want people to enjoy Christmas, but if you’re going to have a drink or two make sure you have a plan A or B in place – either a designated driver or a taxi.
“We get called out to road traffic collisions – 26 people died on our roads in Dorset last year. Responding to an RTC is hard on the crews and the families, as well as our local communities.
We don’t want to respond to a situation that could have been avoided. It’s very traumatic.”