Wake-up call for drivers

PUBLISHED: 10:12 06 December 2007 | UPDATED: 13:07 04 May 2010

THE MORNING AFTER: Pc Tony Barrios breathalysing Simon Pearce during a controlled experiment to test his driving ability after a night of drinking.	Picture: THE HUNTS POST.

THE MORNING AFTER: Pc Tony Barrios breathalysing Simon Pearce during a controlled experiment to test his driving ability after a night of drinking. Picture: THE HUNTS POST.

HAVING consumed five pints of beer, nine vodkas mixed with lemonade, a shot of Tia Maria and, for good ­measure, a quick shot of Sambuca, a pub landlord heads to bed. Waking up at 7.30am after just five hours sleep and with a steaming hangover and bloods

HAVING consumed five pints of beer, nine vodkas mixed with lemonade, a shot of Tia Maria and, for good ­measure, a quick shot of Sambuca, a pub landlord heads to bed.

Waking up at 7.30am after just five hours sleep and with a steaming hangover and bloodshot eyes, he gets in his car and drives.

With reduced concentration and blurred vision, he crashes into a garage, clipping the side of the vehicle.

Thankfully, this was only a training exercise at Alconbury airfield, but it highlighted the dangers of getting behind the wheel after a night drinking.

Organised by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Road Safety Partnership, the demonstration marked the launch of the county's Christmas drink-drive campaign.

Debbie Maith, road safety officer for Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC), said: "On average, 3,000 people are killed or seriously injured each year in drink-drive collisions in the UK and many people don't realise that this can happen the morning after you have been drinking."

Simon Pearce, 23, landlord of the Territoral puib, in Huntingdon, provided the perfect example of "morning-after" drink-driving in controlled conditions.

Behind the wheel of a Toyota Starlet, Simon managed to guide the car through a path of cones, but bumped into a cone as he tried to reverse into a "garage" marked out on the ­concrete. It did not inspire any ­confidence in his passenger, Steve Merrett, a CCC road safety officer and qualified driving instructor.

"I would not feel safe being in a car on a public highway with Simon knowing how much he had drunk the night before," he said.

Throughout December, police will be reminding people to consider whether they are capable of driving the morning after. The message will be on buses, posters and leaflets as well as broadcast on radio.

Casualty reduction officer Pc Tony Barrios said: "Most people are aware if they are capable of driving the morning after.

"But a growing number of young drivers do not listen to their instincts and take a risk."

In the fight against drive-driving, Cambridgeshire police will also be breathalysing people who have been stopped for a moving motor offence - whether it is for not wearing a seatbelt or having a broken light.

In addition, some roads into and out of villages and towns will be coned off at different times of the day and drivers will be pulled over and breathalysed.

Pc Barrios said: "Every time someone gets behind the wheel and drives under the influence, whether that is after drinking or the next morning, they are not only putting themselves at risk but also the lives of others.

"Over the next four weeks drivers should expect to see a visible police presence on the county's roads as we conduct stop checks to target those who break the law by driving under the influence."

Drink-drive facts

- Last Christmas in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, 65 men between the ages of 17 and 25 were caught drink-driving compared with two women in the same age group.

- More than 500,000 breath tests are carried out each year - on average, 100,000 are positive.

- You could still lose your licence if you drive the next day while over the legal limit.

- Driving, or attempting to drive, while above the legal limit or unfit through drink carries a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment, a fine of up to £5,000 and a minimum 12 months driving ban.

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