Police forces across the UK have this week launched their annual festive campaigns in an effort to tackle the threat posed by drink and drug drivers.
The campaigns feature a mix of ‘intelligence-led tactics’, collaboration, a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach and new random testing powers.
England – police use ‘intelligence-led tactics’ to detect drink/drug drivers
Police forces across the country will be using intelligence-led tactics and local knowledge of hotspots to detect people who are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the festive period.
This announcement came from the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) as it launched its annual month-long operation to tackle those who drive under the influence. The campaign will run throughout December and sets out to remind motorists that even a very small amount of drugs or alcohol can affect your ability to drive safely.
In addition to targeted enforcement operations, NPCC is also sharing social media campaigns designed by police forces, government and charity partners in a bid to educate motorists.
Wales – police and Road Safety Wales join forces
Police forces across Wales are targeting drink and drug drivers in a campaign which also features a series of cartoons carrying the tagline ‘Christmas will never be the same’.
The campaign sees all four Welsh forces, working in partnership with Road Safety Wales, coming together to ‘educate, detect and prosecute’ motorists who put themselves and others at risk.
It was officially launched at an event in Merthyr Tydfil, which included a speech from Angela Coen, mother to the late Arran Coen, who died from a brain injury after his car hit a tree in November 2015. Arran had 102 milligrams of alcohol in his blood at the time of the collision – the legal drink-drive limit is 80.
Mrs Coen, who is sharing her experience in a video released as part of the campaign, said: "When Arran chose to get behind the wheel of his car he didn’t consider the impact that one extra drink could have on his ability to keep control.”
Northern Ireland – police deploy new random testing powers
In Northern Ireland there is new legislation which gives police the powers to perform random breath tests at vehicle checkpoints.
Police chiefs are using the annual winter drink-drive operation, which commenced on 24 November, to tell drivers that ‘no limit is safe’ and urge them ‘to think about the consequences’.
Prior to the new legislation, police officers needed ‘reasonable suspicion’ about the manner of someone’s driving, or to have seen a moving traffic offence or been called to a collision, before being able to administer a breath test.
Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI) says it will use the new powers to ‘prevent people taking life-threatening, unacceptable, simply stupid risks’.
In addition to running operations to catch drink drivers throughout the day and night, in the weeks leading up to Christmas and into the New Year, PSNI will also coordinate road safety operations in border counties with colleagues from An Garda Síochána Traffic Corp.
Scotland – campaign tells motorists ‘best approach is none’
Drivers in Scotland are being advised that ‘the best approach is none’ by the Scottish Government and Road Safety Scotland (part of Transport Scotland).
Last year – 12 months after the lower drink drive limit was introduced in Scotland – one in 35 drivers stopped during the festive season were over the legal limit compared with one in 50 over the same period in the previous year.
The awareness campaign supports Police Scotland’s enforcement campaign which will see more patrols on Scotland’s roads from 2 December.