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Gloucestershire Business News

Arrests on very first day of Christmas drink driving campaign

Three people were arrested on the very first day of this year's police Christmas crackdown on drink driving - reinforcing the message that this will be the most powerful campaign yet.

Agencies had warned in advance they would be out in force to launch this year's anti-drink and drug driving campaign, and one woman and two men did not heed the warning.

The woman and one of the men have been charged and will be appearing at court in the coming weeks, with "enquiries are ongoing" in the other case.

All of which came before today's (Tuesday, December 3) official launch of the Christmas anti-drink and drug drive campaign, at Cirencester Police Station, with staff from Gloucestershire Constabulary, Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service (GFRS) and the South West Ambulance Service talking to members of the public.

As part of this year's campaign, which runs until January 1, a new set of measures are being used to help stop intoxicated drivers getting behind the wheel in the first place and to catch those who don't heed the warnings.

Chief Inspector Al Barby said: "The steps we are taking collectively this year are meant to ensure that the anti-drink and drug drive message reaches more people than ever before but that we also increase the chances of stopping the stubborn minority who ignore it.

"The campaign artwork mirrors a recent Scottish campaign and says in a very effective way that having none for the road is the only safe option.

"We all know of the profound impact that driving after drinking or taking drugs can have on people, and so we will be working to ensure that those who ignore this advice will be targeted.

"It is important that those people understand the consequences of their actions".

In the last 50 years road casualties caused by drink driving have fallen dramatically. Yet on average 3,000 people are killed or seriously injured each year in the UK in a drink drive related collision.

In Gloucestershire in 2018, 39 drink or drug drive collisions were recorded against a backdrop of 44 in 2017 and 62 in 2016 but local agencies are keen to continue the downward trend.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Mark Astle said: "By drinking and driving, you risk your life, your passengers' lives, and the lives of others on the road. Any amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive. Drivers who drink alcohol or take drugs will have to face the consequences."

Work to get the message out there started in October - with officers visiting pubs to remind them of their responsibilities and more recently Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Martin Surl issuing an open letter to licensees, bar staff and road users asking them to avoid alcohol and use alternative means of transport to get home safely.

The main phase of this year's campaign shifts into gear this week, when drivers can expect to see more roadside police checks both in urban and rural areas across the county.

A new task force of roads policing officers will be running proactive drink drive campaigns alongside the Special Constabulary across the county - with the first week seeing vehicle stops in the Cotswolds, Stroud, Gloucester, Cheltenham, Forest of Dean, Dursley and Tewkesbury areas.

Additionally, while 999 should always be used in an emergency when time is of the essence, a new police text number (07860 009 095) will give people the chance to report information discreetly about regular drink drivers or someone they suspect is likely to drink drive but hasn't yet headed for their vehicle.

In recent years, detection of drug driving offences has also been improved by the use of drug swipe kits at the road side that can indicate the use of cocaine and cannabis.

GFRS will be providing a key educational strand - delivering hard-hitting talks about the impact of drink driving to students and at barracks in the county during December and are producing a film to highlight why drink or drug driving is one of the 'fatal four' most common causes of road deaths.

Fire officers are already making use of virtual reality headsets to help people understand the effect drink and drugs can have on the system when driving.

Mr Surl said: "I have made safe and social driving one of my priorities because more people lose their lives on our roads than anywhere else. And when you share the experiences of those who have killed someone or lost a loved one in this way, you realise what a terrible and senseless waste it is.

"While most people's attitudes to drinking and driving have changed for the better, we still need campaigns like this to remind those who put their own selfish and irresponsible approaches first that adopting a zero approach to alcohol won't ruin your Christmas, but it might save a life."

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