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Launch of Christmas Anti-Drink Drive Campaign 29 November 2006

This year’s festive campaign warning motorists of the dangers of drinking and driving was launched at noon today (Wednesday, 29th November) at the Claremont Hotel, Douglas.

The 2006 Christmas Anti-Drink Drive Campaign is a joint initiative between the Department of Transport’s Road Safety Unit and the Police and the message, as in previous years, is clear and simple – if you are socialising over the Christmas and New Year period, don’t be foolish by attempting to drive while under the influence.

This year, the campaign, which is being supported by Sleepwell Hotels, has two distinct elements. The first is a joint initiative between the Road Safety Unit and Manx Radio and saw students from Castle Rushen High School choir and Ballakermeen High School folk group each record adapted versions of the Christmas carol ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’.

The new version – ‘Arrest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ is being used in an advertising drive across the Island’s three radio stations and the members of Ballakermeen’s folk group attended the launch of the campaign to perform their rendition.

The second element involves a striking image of a hearse parked in front of a taxi, fire engine, bus, ambulance first responder and police car – with the tag line ‘Who’s taking you home this Christmas?’.

‘Motorists who drink and drive are taking a massive risk,’

said Gordon Edwards, Road Safety Manager for the Isle of Man Department of Transport.

‘They risk their own safety, the safety of others in the car and those sharing the road; they risk losing their jobs and their freedom. Most importantly they are risking the lives of their loved ones and innocent victims for the sake of an alcoholic drink. It’s just not worth it.
‘Last year close to two hundred offenders were prosecuted for drink driving offences. They have been fined, disqualified from driving and in some cases sent to prison. These punishments have been well publicised, yet drivers are still prepared to take the risk.’

Mr Edwards explained:

‘You may have only had one or two drinks, but even a small amount of alcohol can affect a person’s ability to drive safely. Reaction times are impaired, as is the ability to judge speed and distance. Alcohol may also create an increased confidence in ability, and therefore promote risk-taking behaviour. You can’t calculate your own drink drive limit, so the only safe option is not to drink and drive.’

The target audience is all the drivers who use the Island’s roads, but with particular emphasis on those who use their vehicles to travel to and from pubs and clubs over the Christmas period – and those people who drive on the morning after a night out and who are still over the limit.

Sergeant John Kinrade, of the Roads Policing Unit, said the campaign’s objectives were to:

• To increase the awareness of the dangers of having a couple of drinks and driving

• To educate drivers that they can’t calculate their alcohol limit

• To get drivers to think about the consequences of being caught

‘The legal limit in the Island is 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood,’

explained Sergeant Kinrade.

‘However, any amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive safely. The effects can include slower reactions, increased stopping distances, poorer judgement of speed and distance and reduced field vision.
‘There is no failsafe guide as to how to stay under the legal alcohol limit or how much you can drink and still drive safely. The only safe option is not to drink if you plan to drive.
‘Motorists should never forget that if you have been out drinking at night, you may still be affected by alcohol the following day. You may feel OK, but you may still be unfit to drive or over the legal limit. It’s impossible to get rid of alcohol any faster – a shower, cup of coffee or other ways of ‘sobering up’ will not help. It just takes time.’

Sergeant Kinrade added:

‘The posters and theme are linked to the question, who’s taking you home this Christmas – will it be public transport, a taxi or a driver who’s fit to drive? Because if you drink and drive you risk being arrested and taken into custody by the police, injured and taken to hospital by ambulance, cut from a wreckage by the fire service or fatally injured, in which case you will complete your last journey by hearse.
‘We are grateful for the assistance of the emergency services, Isle of Man Transport, Elegance Taxis and Eric Faragher Ltd of Onchan in enabling us to create such a striking image for this part of the campaign.’

The penalties for drinking and driving are severe in the Isle of Man – a fine of up to £5,000 and a disqualification.

‘The reciprocal ban legislation means that any disqualification incurred in the Isle of Man will usually apply in the UK and vice versa,’

Mr Edwards said.

‘There is also the probability of a jail sentence. Following a drink drive conviction insurance costs rocket, costs of taxis and public transport travel are significant and a requirement to pass another driving test before a licence is restored may be imposed.’

As part of the campaign, a ‘crash’ display will be on show in Regent Street, Douglas, during the evening of Thursday, 14th December. The aim is to show late night shoppers the after effects of a road traffic accident and members of each of the emergency services will be on hand to answer questions and offer advice.

Sergeant Kinrade warned:

‘We are really throwing our weight behind this year’s campaign, and people should expect to come to our attention if they are foolish enough to take the risks involved with drink driving. The police will be increasing patrols over the festive period and officers will be briefed to target drink drivers.
‘Our team is simply fed up of dealing with the trauma of collisions generally, and anyone causing one while under the influence can expect little sympathy from us. The message couldn’t be clearer – just don’t do it.’

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