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Last Updated: Monday, 6 December, 2004, 02:31 GMT
Darling sends drink-drive warning
Woman crashes into pub table in scene from Think campaign
The campaign emphasises that any drinking can cause a fatal crash
Drinking just a small amount of alcohol before driving can still cause a fatal crash, the government has warned.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling made the comments as the government prepared to launch its Christmas drink-driving campaign on Monday.

The advertising campaign will aim to press home the message that "the only safe way is not to drink and drive".

Government figures show 560 people died in 2003 in drink-related road accidents while 2,600 were seriously injured.

Mr Darling said: "As we enter the festive period it is essential that motorists remember that if they are going to drink, they should either leave their car at home or get someone else to drive.

The government must make it clear that drink-driving is not acceptable at any time, Christmas or otherwise
Mary Williams OBE, Brake

"You can't calculate your own drink-drive limit and the only safe way is not to drink and drive."

Last week, the government revealed its Road Safety Bill, which aims to toughen up the law on drink-driving.

If passed, it would allow breath tests taken at the side of the road to be used as evidence in court, make the worst drivers face a re-test and allow convicted drivers to have so-called alcohol locks fitted to their cars.

These devices prevent the vehicle from starting if the driver does not provide a clear breath test.

Mr Darling said: "The majority of law-abiding motorists are fed up with the reckless minority of drivers who continue to take unacceptable risks by drinking and driving.

Alistair Darling
Mr Darling said it was impossible to calculate your own drink-drive limit

"This is why we have taken new police powers in the Road Safety Bill to toughen up the penalties for the worst offending drink drivers and other irresponsible drivers."

As well as adverts on television, milk cartons will carry warnings while pub chain JD Wetherspoon has created a Christmas range of non-alcoholic cocktails.

There will also be warnings in selected off-licences and pubs.

The road safety charity, Brake, welcomed the campaign, but urged the government to take even tougher measures against drink-drivers by lowering the legal alcohol limit from 80mg per 100ml of blood to 50mg.

It said high-profile publicity campaigns should be maintained all year round and motorists should be targeted outside pubs and clubs at closing time, as they are in many EU countries.

'Not a drop'

So-called 'Booze Bus' mobile laboratories, which are used in Australia and New Zealand to carry out road-side testing, should also be adopted, the charity said.

Mary Williams OBE, chief executive of Brake, said: "It is absolutely essential that drivers do not drink and drive, not a drop.

"Of course we support the Department of Transport's annual drink-drive campaign, but it is far less effective than a hard-hitting year-round campaign.

"The government must make it clear that drink-driving is not acceptable at any time, Christmas or otherwise."


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SEE ALSO:
Does anything stop drink-driving?
02 Dec 04 |  Magazine
'Don't get smashed', drivers told
29 Nov 04 |  Lancashire
TV chef banned for drink-driving
23 Nov 04 |  Wiltshire
Drink-drive deaths revealed
22 Nov 04 |  Northern Ireland


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