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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 November, 2004, 07:22 GMT
Drink drive message 'ignored'
Car dashboard
Alcohol or drugs was the single biggest factor in fatal collisions
The "don't drink and drive" message is not getting through to motorists, according to a national road safety charity.

Brake said a hard-hitting message it was launching on Tuesday aimed to highlight rising casualty figures in Northern Ireland.

More than a third of fatal crashes involved drink or drugs, it said.

The campaign is being launched in Belfast by the sister of a drink drive victim.

Aileen Tester's brother, Robert Bradley, was killed by a drink driver as he walked home after a night out at university.

Robert, 20, from Londonderry and his friend, Alex Veeder, 21, from Manchester, were killed after a driver sped the wrong way down a one-way street in Nottingham in 2000.

"Drinking and driving devastates innocent lives," said Aileen.

If drivers could see such carnage - see us cut the lifeless bodies of victims from the mangled wreckage of vehicles - I am sure they would not be so quick to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking
Chris Kerr
Fire Brigade Belfast area commander

"Even getting behind the wheel after drinking small amounts of alcohol can lead to a fatal crash.

"I urge anyone who thinks drinking and driving is okay to think of the traumatic loss that bereaved families suffer. The message to drivers is simple: don't drink and drive."

Brake said the latest police statistics showed fatalities caused by drunk or drugged drivers in Northern Ireland had increased by 50% over the past decade - from 25 deaths in 1993 to 37 deaths in 2003.

The figures also showed that in 2003, alcohol or drugs was the single biggest factor in Northern Ireland fatal collisions, with speed a close second.

'Massively influenced'

However, David Lyle, whose company has been behind advertisements for road safety, insisted the "don't drink and drive" message was getting through.

"They are working fantastically well," he told BBC Radio Ulster on Tuesday.

"In the year 2003, out of the 29 fatal collisions caused by driver alcohol and drugs in Northern Ireland, eight of those collisions were caused by young drivers aged 17 to 24."

He added: "We are continually polling people and tracking the evidence in these ads. Young people are massively influenced by them.

"Year in, year out, month in, month out, we record the highest influence scores for these ads - 79% of young people aged 17 to 24 are influenced by them."

Chris Kerr, the Fire Brigade area commander for Belfast, said firefighters were increasingly called to attend horrific road crashes - often as a result of drink related driving.

"If drivers could see such carnage - see us cut the lifeless bodies of victims from the mangled wreckage of vehicles - I am sure they would not be so quick to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking," he said.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
BBC NI's Yvette Shapiro:
"Last year, 37 people died in accidents caused by drivers who were either drunk or drugged"



SEE ALSO:
Police operation 'huge success'
14 Sep 04 |  Northern Ireland
Police target illegal drivers
09 Sep 04 |  Northern Ireland


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