The county's police have launched their annual campaign by urging motorists to keep everyone safer on the roads by not drink driving this summer
From today, June 1, Northamptonshire Police will be taking part in a month-long campaign focused on reducing the number of drink and drug drivers in the county.
In 2016 720 people were arrested in Northamptonshire on drink drive charges, while 47 were arrested for drug drive offences between March and December 2016.
Throughout June, members of the Safer Roads Team will be conducting a number of operations across the county, including morning-after stop checks, breath and drug wipe tests, to tackle the issue.
PC Chris Gray, of the Safer Roads Team, said: “Drink and drug use are major causes of road traffic collisions.
“The consequences of getting behind the wheel when impaired can be fatal, so we are urging people to make the right choices this summer and never drive when they’ve had a drink.”
Although drink drive fatalities have fallen dramatically in the UK in recent years, in 2014 there were still 240 deaths due to drink driving – accounting for 14 per cent of all road fatalities – and 1,070 serious injuries. A total of 8,210 people were hurt in drink drive incidents.
PC Gray said: “Deciding to drink and drive means you could kill yourself or someone else, or cause life-threatening or life-changing injuries. It’s usually the driver that survives and passengers or other road users who are seriously injured or killed, which is something to think about, especially if you have family or friends in the car with you.”
The penalties for a drink drive conviction include a minimum 12-month driving ban, a criminal record, an unlimited fine, up to six months in prison and an 11-year driving licence endorsement.
PC Gray added: “A criminal record is disclosable to your employer, and may lead to the loss of your job. A conviction can also impact on you going abroad in the future, to the USA and anywhere else that requires a visa, as it must be disclosed and can prevent you from being granted entry. It also has to be disclosed to insurers and will affect your premiums.”
The Safer Roads Team also wants to dispel the common myth about it being ‘safe’ to have a couple of pints and still drive.
PC Gray said: “This mistaken belief originated years ago, when there weren’t the strong lagers available now.
“Any amount of alcohol will have an impact on your driving ability. It especially affects your reaction time so if something happens in front of you, you won’t be as quick to react and won’t be able to brake or avoid it.
“Our message is there is no safe limit – don’t drink and drive, at all. If you’re going out, plan ahead about how you’re getting home, book a taxi or sort a lift.
“The majority of people do the right thing, so make sure you’re one of them.”
Part of the campaign will see morning-after roadside checks carried out to detect drivers still affected by alcohol consumed the previous night.
PC Gray said: “We still see people who think they’ve slept it off and are ok to drive, when they’re still over the limit. Most people know not to do it but some still do, so we want everyone to be aware of the dangers posed by driving the morning after a night out.”
Motorists who drive while under the influence of drugs are also being targeted during the month of action. It is against the law to drive under the influence of illegal drugs, or with any of 17 controlled drugs above a specified level in your blood.
PC David Lee of the Safer Roads Team said: “Drug driving carries the same penalties as drink driving. We will be testing drivers with drug wipe tests if there’s any suspicion of drug use.
“We see a whole mix of people from all walks of life in custody for this. Don’t be one of them.”
Running alongside the month-long campaign will be an awareness drive for Voice for Road Harm, a specialist service run by victim and witness support service Voice to help those affected by serious road traffic incidents.
Voice for Road Harm is a free, confidential support service which provides professional therapy, counselling and support through legal proceedings and inquests to anyone affected by death or serious injury on the road.
Launched in December 2015, the service has worked with hundreds of victims, witnesses and families affected by trauma on the roads, to help them rebuild their lives following road traffic collisions.