Not drink-driving is for life, not just for Christmas
When you're talking about drink-driving, you often hear about the stories and see the statistics, yet you never really see and hear about the aftermath of someone who is killed or severely injured by drink-drivers. One man who has is Neil, a serving police officer with 25 years' experience. Here, he shares his experiences of dealing with drink-drive casualties and criticises the latest drink-drive campaign released by Think!
Christmas, a time for family and friends and for some, work. As a police officer I have spent quite a few festive periods away from my family but let's face it, it's my job right?
It is my job, a vocation, a calling. Whatever we call it, those of us who take the oath and don the uniform all have one thing in common, we see far too much hurt, far too much hate and far too much heartbreak, more than one person should really have to face. Yet we do it, regardless, because we care; it may not always look that way when the media pull forces apart for the failings of an individual but it's true. We care.
Drink-driving has always been a bug bear of mine, a constant thread weaving its way through my career of almost 25 years and every day a drink drive related matter crosses my path.
I have arrested, interviewed and charged drink drivers and I've been in court and listened to people try to squirm out of a conviction by exploiting a technicality or just bare faced lie. Far too many times I have stood at the scene of an accident and gazed in horror at the devastation that the combination of alcohol and driving engenders.
I've stood in A&E when the patient flat lined, I've taken that wordless expression from a paramedic that means this person's journey is over, I've swept blood from the road and sat with bereaved families, with simply no words to say at all. I've booked drink drivers into custody who have no idea they have killed a person and now, in the control room, I oversee incidents where drink is a factor, knowing only too well what my colleagues are facing and thinking.
It's the preventable incidents that hit me most. It's the simple acts like using a seatbelt, ignoring a mobile phone, not speeding or simply not drinking any alcohol at all that can make a huge difference.
So it wasn't surprising to find myself annoyed by the latest @ThinkGovUK drink drive adverts. Why? Simple. The two adverts appear to suggest that having one drink but refusing a second is fine. When handed a large shot the narrator says "I can't. I'm driving and I've already had one".
They tell me one of the biggest problem groups is young men aged 20-30, risk takers. They are men who have one drink that easily becomes two or three, they are clearly a group where the risk of deadly consequences is massive.
Yet by doing this campaign Think! are advertising to every other road user that maybe one is ok? This is reinforcing the folklore we have been campaigning against since the 1960's. You may agree with me (I ran a short poll and 78% did) or you may not. Watch for yourself.
Let's face it; Malcolm and Brendan were both idiots for thinking one drink was ok in the first place.
Every police force in the country has a Christmas drink drive campaign underway. They all promote the #nonefortheroad / #notadrop zero tolerance message. 240 people were killed in road crashes in 2014 where alcohol was involve; over four devastated families EVERY WEEK. That's 10 families between now and the new year.
Every police officer in the country and every family that has lost a loved one have one message for you.
Don't drink and drive, not just at Christmas, don't do it EVER!
You can follow Neil on twitter HERE.