Cheshire Police have now released their winter drink and drug driving results following a series of road safety initiatives which were conducted from November of last year. These included targeting motorists who drive the morning after a night of drinking. Road safety messages were communicated via a series of measures to include engagement days and breathalyser check points set up in specific areas to target motorists committing moving traffic offences. This ran alongside a national campaign by ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) to warn drivers that getting behind the wheel after a festive tipple could see them end up behind bars over Christmas.
According to police chiefs from ACPO, officers across the country carried out nearly 20,000 extra breath tests on Christmas drivers over the age of 25 and found that a small percentage were failing. In Cheshire, the number of positive breath tests carried out across the force has noticeably reduced during 2011 and 2012, and indicates a drop in arrests from 5.7% in 2011 to 4.8% in 2012. It is hoped by these latest statistics from Cheshire that the public are responding to drink driving messages which are delivered throughout the year by the police, and are taking it on board so they don’t risk the lives of others on the road.
One of the main focuses of the ACPO winter campaign was on the under 25s after research from 2011 showed that drivers aged between 20 and 24 failed more breath tests than any other age group. In a bid to tackle the issue, police across the country breathalysed more than 1,000 extra drivers in this age category compared to 2011 and findings reveal that there were 104 fewer young drivers failing tests compared to 2011.
Assistant Chief Constable, Ruth Purdie added that, "The outcome of the 2012 winter drink driving campaign shows the excellent work, and tenacity of our officers in keeping our roads safe. By stepping up enforcement measures and utilising extra resources over Christmas, this has allowed us to identify those motorists who are still not heeding our "don’t drink and drive" warnings.
However, what is still clearly evident is the worrying trend that the younger generation are not showing compliance despite our continued road safety messages to consider the consequences of your actions and think before getting into a car, after having drunk alcohol or taken drugs."
ACPO lead for Road Policing, Deputy Chief Suzette Davenport, also commented that "We made it clear to drivers before Christmas that we would be stepping up our efforts to breathalyse them and it is encouraging to see that the message had got through to even more drivers than last year. However, there is still a small but significant number who believe that they can risk their own lives and the lives of others, by driving under the influence and we will continue to focus on catching them."
As part of the enforcement measures, Cheshire Police also tested drivers for being under the influence of drugs. Across Cheshire, 26 field impairment tests were carried out, but with 8 arrests made which carries a similar pattern from 2011. From the results, the average age of drug drivers is 28. Dave Murray, Road Safety Officer said in relation to this, "many young people I speak to genuinely believe that certain drugs - mainly cannabis and stimulants make you a safer driver, this is a myth. The reality is that taking drugs and attempting to drive carries serious consequences. Drugs, like alcohol, have the capacity to distort your perception of things in all kinds of ways. One thing is certain, they definitely do not enhance your ability to carry out the complex task of driving, and they only make it more difficult and dangerous"
PC Andy Taylor, North West Motorway Police Group also commented that, "The results from last years Operation Keret demonstrate that a certain amount of drivers are willing to flaunt the law and drive whilst under the influence of drink and drugs. Cheshire Police will continue to detect and prosecute drivers under the influence to make the communities of Cheshire East, Cheshire West, Halton and Warrington a safer place."
To read more about Cheshire Police, please visit cheshire.police.uk.