Motorists who may be tempted to take their cars with them on nights out over the festive period have been given a stark warning.
This year’s drink and drug campaign, in conjunction with Lancashire Road Safety Partnership, has a new hard-hitting message.
Police and their partners are asking which vehicle people would prefer to travel home in after a festive bash - a taxi, a police car, an ambulance or, in the worst case scenario, a hearse.
As part of the launch for this year’s campaign launch, in Blackpool’s St John Square, the theme of ‘which direction will you take?’ was neatly illustrated when each of these vehicles were lined up.
The festive crackdown aims to educate drivers about the dangers of drinking and taking drugs at a time of year when more drivers than ever are caught at the wheel under the influence of one or the other.
Last December, more than 3,000 drivers were given drink and drug tests, with 133 either failing the test of refusing to take it.
Of those cases, 48 were tested with new drug driving kits, with 28 of those - 58 per cent - proving positive.
Inspector Andy Trotter, of Lancashire Police, said: “If you’re out partying this Christmas then please plan ahead and book a taxi, check public transport times or don’t drink.
“If you know of someone who is driving under the influence of drink or drugs then please do the right thing and call us on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously before they kill themselves or somebody else. Nobody wants to end up in a police car, ambulance, or in the worst instance a hearse.”
The man who is representing North West Ambulance Service in the campaign has his own harrowing experience of a serious road accident scene.
Sector Manager for Lancashire at North West Ambulance Service, Dave Rigby said: “A few years ago I was the first person at the scene where two young people were fatally injured in a serious road accident. The point is that ambulance teams are not un-affected by what can happen, it can stay with them and it is the last thing they want to be turning up to. The consequences affect everyone, not just the drivers but other road users, pedestrians and, of course, their own families.
“People should understand the benefits of safe driving and that they have a responsibility as both a driver and a passenger to help prevent more tragedy on our roads.
“We know that driving under the influence of drink or drugs is still an issue, particularly at this time of year.”
And Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said: “Christmas and the holidays are a time for people getting together and enjoying themselves, but the message is clear, don’t let drink or drug driving ruin your life or anyone else’s.”
The police say people are getting the message about driving under the influence and say the attitude from most drivers have changed in the last 20 years.
But people are still taking the risks.
Insp Trotter added; “Members of the public are helping - more people are calling us when they see someone about to drive under the influence.”
The anonymous Crimestoppers number is 0800 555 111.