Greater Manchester Police launched its Wigan Christmas Drink Drive campaign on Saturday by staging a collision between two vehicles to highlight the consequences of drink driving.
The event took place outside the Grand Arcade on Standishgate in Wigan town centre, and saw casualties played by actors from Wigan and Leigh College cut free from the wreckage by fire crews.
The demonstration showed how emergency services work together to free victims and get them to hospital as quickly as possible, and each stage of the rescue was accompanied by a live commentary from fire officers.
Throughout December, Operation Advent will see police targeting drink drivers by carrying out breath tests at check points across the borough, and educating motorists on the dangers* of drink driving and the penalties for doing so.
Figures for December 2011 show that across Greater Manchester police conducted nearly 12,000 breath tests which resulted in 413 arrests. Of these, 78 involved collisions where the driver was found to be over the limit, and a further 34 people were arrested following field impairment tests.
In terms of overall road casualties across Greater Manchester in December last year, 595 people were injured, 49 seriously injured and eight lost their lives.
Inspector John Armfield, GMP’s lead on drink driving, said: “We want everyone to enjoy themselves this Christmas, but we also want people to act responsibly and be safe.
“If you are having a drink, do not drive, and make alternative arrangements to get home, as that way you won't ruin anyone's Christmas. Words cannot describe the enormous impact on bereaved families who lose loved ones through drink or drug driving, and we will continue to do all we can to bring down the number of casualties.”
GMFRS’s Borough Manager for Wigan, Steve Sheridan, said: “We want to keep people safe this festive season so Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service is working with our 999 partners to deter people from drink or drug driving.
“Firefighters are called to many road traffic collisions and the emergency services are busy enough over Christmas, so we want drivers in Wigan to know that it’s just not worth the risk.
“Not only could you lose your licence but you could be involved in a more tragic incident where you could kill or seriously injure yourself or someone else, which would have a huge impact on family life at Christmas, so please think before you put your keys in the ignition.”
Wigan Council is also appealing to motorists not to drink and drive over the Christmas period.
"The council takes its responsibilities for road safety very seriously,” says cabinet lead for the environment Cllr Kevin Anderson.
“Colleagues in the blue light services will be staging a vehicle crash simulation in the centre of town. College students will play the parts of drink drivers and they will be cut from wrecked cars in real time as people look on. It’s dramatic, but I hope it brings home the effects of drink driving to everyone watching.”
Cllr Anderson adds that everyone – pedestrians and drivers alike – can ensure they avoid being involved in accidents. “Be safe and be seen,” he adds. “Dark coats on dark nights aren’t always the best choice – and hoods are great to keep warm, but may restrict visibility and impair your hearing. Together, making sensible choices, we can keep the accident rate down and all have a safe Christmas.”
Police are reminding motorists that:
• Any amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive
• There is no fool-proof way of drinking and staying under the limit
• The amount and type of alcoholic drink and your weight, sex, age and metabolism will all play their part
• Sobering up tricks do not work
• If you have been out drinking the night before you may still be over the limit the next day
If you're convicted of drink driving:
• You'll have a criminal record
• You won't be allowed to drive for at least a year
• You could lose your job
• You will have higher insurance costs
• Your driving licence will be endorsed for 11 years