Summer drink driving campaign in Essex begins with Corringham mother’s testimony

TAKE responsibility – that’s the plea to drivers, their families and friends and members of the public as Essex Police launches its summer anti-drink drive campaign.

Police officers will be out in force across the county between Wednesday, June 1, 2011 and Thursday, June 30, 2011 cracking down on those who choose to drink and drive.

In 2010, 132 people in Essex were killed, seriously injured or injured as a result of a driver being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Essex Police deals with drink driving robustly 365 days a year but will be stepping up road checks in towns across the county with bustling night time economies and rural areas where some drivers believe they have less chance of getting caught drunk behind the wheel.

As well as breath tests, our officers will be testing drivers for drug use with road side impairment tests and targeting those who use the road to commit other types of crime.

Visitors to the Essex Police website will be able to find out how many people are arrested for drink driving during the campaign. A totaliser showing the number of people breathalysed and found to be driving over the legal alcohol limit will be regularly updated at http://www.essex.police.uk/summerdrinkdrive

Residents can also follow the progress of the campaign on Twitter at essexpoliceuk #drinkdrive

This year Essex Police is asking everyone to take responsibility by:

• Stopping family and friends getting behind the wheel if they have had an alcoholic drink

• Dialling 999 if you know someone is drunk and you see them getting behind the wheel of a car

• Calling Essex Police on 0300 333 4444 to give police information about someone who regularly chooses to drink and drive

• Telling Crimestoppers anonymously about people who regularly choose to drink and drive by calling 0800 555 111 or visiting www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Drink driving risks lives, not just that of the driver and their passengers but other innocent people using the road. It can result in a criminal record, the loss of a driving licence or a fine of up to £5000. More seriously, it can kill or injure someone and leave the driver facing up to 14 years in prison and having to live with their actions for the rest of their lives.

Sam Matkin had been on his way out to meet up with friends when he was killed by a drink driver a week before Christmas in 2006.

The 22-year-old was killed almost instantly when a car travelling the wrong way on the A13 smashed into his Ford Fiesta on December 16. The driver was found to be three times over the legal drink drive limit and jailed for five years.

Sam’s mum Christine Matkin has bravely agreed to tell her story in a filmed interview in the hope it will make drivers think twice about getting behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol.

She said: “If I can stop just one person being killed by a drink driver I’ll do whatever I can.

“Sam’s death has changed my life completely. He died four years ago but it’s still as painful now as it was then – we didn’t get to say goodbye and it just doesn’t get any easier.

“If the driver had called a taxi rather than got behind the wheel my son would still be alive. Please don’t put innocent lives at risk, please don’t drink and drive, it’s as simple as that.”

Adam Pipe, casualty reduction manager at Essex Police, said: “As the weather improves we all enjoy BBQs and sitting in pub gardens but we are still seeing people who risk their life and the lives of other innocent people by selfishly getting behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol.

“Some drivers seem to think they are less likely to get caught by drinking and driving in country locations but our officers will be out in force throughout June looking for drink drivers and reacting to calls we receive from members of the public and information passed to us from Crimestoppers.

“It’s time we all took responsibility. Don’t let friends or family get behind the wheel of a car if you know they’ve had a drink and report drink drivers to Essex Police or Crimestoppers. Picking up the phone could save a life.

“Just one drink is too many when driving. One or two isn’t okay regardless of your age, sex or build so if you’re planning a night out designate a driver who will stick to soft drinks.

“Think about the consequences of drink driving. Losing your licence could mean losing your job and leave you unable to pay your mortgage or rent. More seriously, you could face imprisonment and the prospect of having to live with the guilt of taking a life for the rest of yours.

“Don’t take the risk.”

Ann Scott, regional manager for Crimestoppers, said: “Last year Crimestoppers received over 100 calls about drink drivers in Essex, indicating that this is a real concern for the public.

“If someone has information about a regular drink driver they may feel uncomfortable about going to the police. Crimestoppers can take this information 100% anonymously. We do not ask for the caller’s name or any personal details. We do not trace or record our calls and those giving information do not have to give a statement to the Police or go to court. Nobody will know you called.

“In the 23 years we have been running Crimestoppers has never broken its promise of anonymity”.

Councillor Tracey Chapman, chairperson of the Essex Casualty Reduction Board and cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “Drink driving is responsible for so many avoidable injuries and deaths on our roads and it is an issue which needs to be addressed.

“We are clear that if you drink and drive in Essex you are very likely to get stopped and breathalysed.”

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