Headlines: June 6th, 2006

All 43 police forces in England and Wales today begin a summer Drink and Drug Driving Campaign and it coincides with a warning from local government leaders that the World Cup is likely to lead an increase in drinking and driving. Many local authorities are launching road safety campaigns for the start of the tournament on Friday.The police campaign focuses on the fact that during the summer people are out more in the afternoon and evenings enjoying themselves and often using their vehicles. The Association of Chief Police Officers says the number of deaths caused by drunk rose by 130 between 1998 and 2004. This, they say, is unacceptable. ACPO also points to the World Cup as a time when people will celebrate in their own homes, at other people’s houses or by going to a local pub.

The Association is stressing, though, that the campaign is not aimed at football fans but at anyone who drives illegally under the influence of drink or who is impaired through drugs. Meredydd Hughes, ACPO lead on roads policing and Chief Constable of South Yorkshire, said, “Enforcing the law in this area is essential in reducing death and injury on the road. During this campaign every driver who is involved in a collision, irrespective of whether they are suspected of an offence of drink driving or not, or whether they are blameworthy, will be breath tested. Officers will also be looking for drivers whose driving is impaired by the use of drugs, the numbers of which are increasing.”

Meanwhile the Local Government Association says beer consumption in pubs is expected to increase by 40 per cent each time England play in the World Cup. Councillor Andy Sutton, said, “Pubs are expecting to sell millions of extra pints every time England take to the field. The worry is that this will lead to a significant increase in drink-related accidents and fatalities on our roads.”

The LGA says councils around the country are launching their own campaigns with the main focus being on young men between 17 and 29, who are most likely to drink and drive. Local authorities are also concerned that the school run may be affected by World Cup drinkers. The LGA says People who drink in the afternoon should not drive in the evening and those who drink heavily for evening kick-offs should think twice about driving the following morning.