Police to crack down on drink-drivers following a rise in deaths
Licensees are being encouraged to help the fight against drink-driving in the run-up to Christmas following a rise in the number of deaths for the first time in 10 years.
Deaths linked to drink-driving rose more than 10 per cent from 460 in 1999 to 520 last year. The trade is being urged to get on board by the Government, with schemes aimed at tackling the issue to head off the possibility of a cut in the drink-drive limit.
Thames Valley Police are urging licensees, neighbours, friends and colleagues to report anyone who gets behind the wheel after a few drinks and they are offering rewards of up to £500.
This crackdown comes as two important surveys show that more than half of young motorists believe they can drive safely after drinking up to five pints and a third of all motorists regularly drink and drive because they think they are under the legal limit.
The reports have worried both the police, anti-drink-driving campaigners and the trade.
Direct Line's road safety campaign manager Dominic Birch urged drivers to be more sensible and warned that there was no foolproof guide to how much alcohol a person could drink and still stay within the law.
He said the best thing for drivers to do was not to drink any alcohol at all.
Road safety minister David Jamieson said: "Drink-driving is still a major cause of death and injury on our roads. The real tragedy is that every single one of those accidents is preventable."
But drinks watchdog the Portman Group told The Publican Newspaper that the "don't drink and drive" message is getting across.
Jean Coussins, director of The Portman Group, said: "There can be nobody left in Britain who is unaware of the risks of drinking and driving.
"The 'I'll be Des' campaign is going to be everywhere this Christmas, reaching over 20,000 pubs, bars and restaurants with promotions designed to encourage everybody to put themselves forward and be Des for the night."
Meanwhile, 13 Eldridge Pope pubs in the Bournemouth and Poole area will be running a form of taxi service during the festive period, where drivers and their vehicles are driven back to their home or chosen destination.
The scheme works by providing two drivers, one to drive the customer home in their own car, and the second driver to take the driver on to their next call.
The Government launched its hard-hitting £1m Christmas anti-drink-drive campaign last week. It includes new radio adverts and posters accompanied by TV adverts showing the aftermath of real-life accidents, in an attempt to get the don't drink and drive message across.
Pubcos are linking up with the Portman Group's 'I'll be Des' campaign to promote the virtues of soft drinks over Christmas. We take a look.