Greater Manchester Police (GMP) launched its Christmas drink drive campaign at an event in Stockport town centre on Friday 30 November.
Representatives from GMP, the Fire and Rescue Service and the council's road safety unit handed out leaflets reminding shoppers about the dangers and consequences of drink driving, and provided demonstrations of how breathalyser kits are used.
People were also invited to use a driving simulator to raise their awareness of the dangers of driving while intoxicated.
In December 2011 police across Greater Manchester conducted 11,855 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 road casualties across Greater Manchester in December last year, 595 people were injured, 49 seriously injured and eight lost their lives.
Among the tactics employed to tackle drink driving this Christmas, officers will be carrying out breath tests at check points across the region and targeting drivers whom intelligence suggests might be offenders. Motorists will also be educated on the dangers of drink driving and the penalties for doing so.*
The work forms part of GMP’s road safety campaign, Dicing with Death, which was set up after 75 people lost their lives on the roads of Greater Manchester in 2011, a 42 per cent increase on the previous year.
The campaign is helping to reduce deaths so far, with 22 fewer victims between 1 February and 31 October 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, a drop of 38 per cent.
Inspector Paul Rowe of GMP’s collision reconstruction unit 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. 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 Stockport, Stuart Millington, added: “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.
“Last winter firefighters in Stockport were called to 25 road traffic collisions to cut people out of the wreckage of cars, and during 2011, 75 people died in road traffic collisions so we want drivers to know that it’s just not worth the risk.
“We don’t want people to ruin Christmas for themselves and others by drink or drug driving, so at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service we are working with our partners to keep people safe on the roads, reminding people to wear seat belts and working to educate young drivers.”
As well as being part of the Dicing with Death campaign, the drink drive crackdown comes under Operation Advent, GMP’s response to tackling the potential spikes in crime in the run up to Christmas. These include drink and drug driving, burglary, alcohol-fuelled violence and theft.
People can follow what police are doing for Operation Advent on GMP’s social media networks that include Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and audioBoo. All related tweets on Twitter will contain the hash tag #GMPadvent
They can also use these sites to find out what officers are doing to fight crime in their neighbourhood, comment on police activity and get advice on how they can keep themselves and their property safe from criminals.
In addition, there will be an Advent calendar on the GMP website throughout December that will feature short daily video clips of officers giving seasonal crime prevention advice.
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