Imagine a cold Christmas night: the early hours of December 25. Children are tucked up in bed, eagerly anticipating the arrival of Santa. Party-goers have wended their way home. The stars are twinkling brightly in the sky, reminiscent of Childhood Christmases long ago.
Imagine a cold Christmas night: Instead of Christmas lights, the night is illuminated by flashing blue lights. The tableau before you is one of the most tragic you have seen, made worse still by the timing.
Imagine a cold Christmas night: there has been a head-on collision and thoughts of festivities are gone from your mind. One person is very obviously dead, thrown through their own windscreen and draped on the bonnet of their own BMW.
Imagine a cold Christmas night: emergency services desperately fighting to save the lives of a newly-wed couple trapped in another car. A few minutes earlier they had been on their way home from a Christmas Eve celebration. Despite valiant efforts, it’s to no avail and they are both lost to us.
Imagine a cold Christmas night: three people dead in the middle of a road that should have been taking them home. I’m not going to go in to graphic details and don’t wish to cause anguish to anyone that recognises the incident I’m referring to. I mention it because this was entirely preventable and was the result of the man in the BMW driving after he had been drinking.
My experience, above, is not unique. Police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, doctors and nurses have to deal with the tragic consequences of drink/driving on a daily basis. Yet somehow it’s more poignant during the festive season.
This week Lincolnshire Police launched its Christmas Drink/Drive campaign. Of course, we don’t target drink/drivers only during the Christmas period. I should also add that I know that drink is not the only cause of road collisions. However I think our campaign is important if it focuses people’s minds on the tragic consequences of drink/driving.
In South Holland my officers will continue to target drink/driving. If you know of a regular drink/driver you are able to report them using a short code text service. Simply text the word DRINK to 80800 with details of the vehicle, (registration number) where the person will be drinking and when. For example: ‘DRINK AB52XYZ every night at The Golden Nugget pub. Leaves at 9pm.’ My officers, supported by roads policing officers will use the information to stop, arrest and process the driver through the courts.
This is only to be used for non-emergency cases and you can still telephone 101 in the normal way.
If you see a drink/drug driver actually driving, you should treat this as an emergency because lives are at risk and call 999.
This December we will be naming those people who are charged with drink/driving. Not everyone agrees with this policy. Remember, when we name someone who has been charged with an offence (any offence: burglary; theft; assault; drink/drive, etc) that is a statement of fact. The courts will determine guilt or innocence. It’s not about naming and shaming. It’s about providing the same factual information that is publically available on the court lists.
Of course, naming people charged with drink/driving won’t deter everybody. But it may, just may, cause some people to stop and think about their actions. Anything that helps prevent further unnecessary deaths on our roads has to be worth trying.
Imagine a cold Christmas night: where motorists make it safely home. Where families aren’t devastated by the loss of a loved one. Where lives aren’t ruined by life-changing injuries.
This is a Christmas dream that you can help fulfil by telling us when you suspect a drink/driver.