Members of the public are being urged to consider the #IMPACT of driving under the influence of drink or drugs as Norfolk Police launch their Christmas campaign.
The month-long initiative launches today, Tuesday 1 December and continues until Friday 1 January, in conjunction with a UK-wide operation led by the National Police Chiefs’ Council. It will see officers carrying-out roadside checks throughout the day and night, including early morning checks, as well as intelligence-led enforcement activity.
The aim, to target irresponsible and dangerous drivers and also to protect other road users from the harm caused by those drink or drug driving. As we continue to reiterate, driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs is one of the ‘Fatal 4’ offences, which makes you more likely to be involved in either a serious or fatal collision.
During last year’s campaign, in Norfolk 613 breath tests were carried out with 95 drivers providing positive readings (74 men/21 women). Of the 100 drug tests conducted, 82 drivers failed (78 men/four women). In addition, 15 people failed to provide a specimen and 22 people were arrested for being unfit to drive through drink or drugs.
Whilst we continue to detect and prosecute these offences throughout the year during ‘business as usual’, recent research published by Drinkaware shows that some people have significantly increased their alcohol consumption at home during the lockdown. Our message this year, is therefore to remind those celebrating at home, that no matter what the setting, drink driving will not be tolerated and those who get behind the wheel and put themselves and others at risk will face the full force of the law.
This year we will be teaming up with the Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service to raise awareness of the #IMPACT that driving under the influence of drink or drugs can have.
The #IMPACT campaign is a joint initiative, launched by the PCC in 2016, which delivers hard-hitting road safety messages to young and future drivers in an attempt to deter them from putting their own lives and the lives of others at risk. Visiting colleges and sixth forms around Norfolk, #IMPACT gives students an insight into what it is like to be involved in a car crash and what is involved for our emergency services in trying to free someone from a vehicle.
As part of the Christmas Drink Drive Campaign, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service are staging three mock ‘crashed car’ scenes along roads near its fire stations in King’s Lynn, Thetford and Sprowston, in Norwich. The aim is to have a wider reaching #IMPACT on motorists who will be driving past. The project will also carry the Fatal4 messaging and the scenes will be created next week and left there for a month to highlight the problem throughout the Christmas and New Year holiday.
Members of the public are also being encouraged to provide information about potential offenders to help officers identify who they are, so they can take appropriate action and prevent such collisions occuring.
Specific time slots have once again been reserved at Norwich Magistrates Courts for every Wednesday of the month to deal with those caught drink-driving. This effectively means that offenders could lose their driving licence within 24 hours of being breathalysed whilst facing additional fines.
Temporary Chief Inspector Jon Chapman, Head of the Joint Roads and Armed Policing Team, said: “This has been a very difficult and challenging year for everyone, with little opportunity to get together with loved ones or celebrate special occasions. With that in mind, we are more than aware that many people will be desperate for some respite over the Christmas period and the chance to share a drink with friends and family – wherever the Covid-19 regulations allow.
“We want people to be able to enjoy themselves, but to do so sensibly and without risking the lives of others. There is no room for people to think that just because it’s Christmas, or that 2020 has been a year to forget, that getting behind the wheel of a vehicle under the influence of drink or drugs is any more acceptable than it would usually be.
“Our message is consistent – it is not acceptable any year, or at any time of the year – drink and drug driving kills and we urge friends and relatives not to tolerate or condone their loved ones taking this unnecessary risk.
“It is also worth remembering that every year we often catch people driving over the limit the morning after a night of drinking. You need time for the effects of alcohol to wear off, so the advice to anyone who has to drive early the next morning is not to drink at all.
“Please don’t gamble with peoples’ lives for the sake of a drink and do not let anyone you know do so either – the same applies if you know someone has used drugs. The chances of being caught, put in a police cell and losing your driving licence and your job is high, as is the risk of destroying a life and causing death or serious injury – it is just not worth it.”
Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships at Norfolk County Council, said: “Our fire crews and road safety team see all too often the devastating impact of drink and drug driving, as well as the other Fatal 4 factors of speed, using mobile phones and not wearing a seatbelt.”
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Scott Norman said: “We hope these mock scenes will get motorists thinking twice before they get behind the wheel this winter. Drink and drug driving can affect not only those involved in an accident, but their families, friends and whole communities. Although we see the aftermath of collisions every day, the scenes still have a real and lasting effect on us all, and many of the accidents are entirely avoidable.
Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Lorne Green, said: “Since its launch four years ago, #IMPACT has targeted young and future drivers specifically, but its hard-hitting and massively important messages – about the responsibility we accept when we get behind the steering wheel, and the potential consequences when we don’t take that responsibility seriously – are a useful reminder for us all as we head out of lockdown and into the Christmas period.
“As more of us return to the roads over the coming days and weeks, please heed this warning from our police and fire & rescue services about the potential #IMPACT of your actions. I urge you to think about other road users, think about our emergency services but ultimately remember the life you save may even be your own.”
Anyone with information about suspected drink or drug driving should contact Norfolk Police on 101.