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Tuesday, 4 December, 2001, 08:39 GMT
Christmas drink drive culprits targeted
A driver is breathalysed
The number of drink-drive fatalties increased last year
The government is launching its 1m anti-drink driving Christmas campaign amid concern about an increase in fatalities.

Last year the number of people who died in drink-drive accidents totalled 520 - a rise on the previous year of 60 deaths.

20,000 families have been saved from enduring an empty chair at the Christmas table

Transport Minister David Jamieson
The campaign comes after criticism was levelled against the government for not paying enough attention to the problem of drug driving.

Instead the government will focus on the success of its anti-drink drive initiatives as it launches its Christmas campaign on Tuesday.

Click here to see estimated annual drink-drive fatalities

It estimates that in 25 years of campaigning 20,000 lives have been saved and hundreds of thousands of injuries have been prevented.

The latest campaign will include graphic television advertisements showing the aftermath of real-life accidents set to familiar Christmas songs such as Jingle Bells.

Launched in London by Transport Minister David Jamieson, the campaign comes at a time of concern both about the level of drink drive-related fatalities and the effects of drugs on drivers.

He said: "20,000 families have been saved from enduring an empty chair at the Christmas table.

Deaths rise

"But we can never be satisfied until every driver is instilled with the message that drinking and driving do not mix."

A Department of Transport spokesman emphasised the success of previous anti-drink drive campaigns.

"The number of fatalities in drink-drive accidents was as high as 1,640 in the late 1970s and has come down considerably since then.

"We are hoping that the rise in deaths last year was a temporary blip.

Breathalysers 'insufficient'

"As far as drugs and driving is concerned, we recognise this is a complicated issue."

The Transport Research Laboratory in Berkshire said on Monday that nearly one in five victims of fatal car accidents in England and Wales had drugs in their bloodstream.

The figures showed a fivefold increase in the past 10 years.

Breathalysers only measure alcohol and so cannot identify drivers who are under the influence of drugs.

Click here to return

The BBC's Simon Montague
"Experts say drug-driving is as bad as drink-driving"
See also:

29 Nov 01 | England
Reward to 'shop' drink drivers
05 Dec 01 | Scotland
Tests to target drug-drivers
20 Feb 01 | Scotland
Drug-drive warning for clubbers
26 Jan 00 | UK
Probe into drug driving
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