'Safety course' drivers treble

The number of drink drivers in Lancashire opting to complete an educational course to reduce their driving ban has tripled.

A total of 1,017 people completed the Telford Training Consultants 2000 courses in 2004 – more than ever before.

A total of 82 courses were held over the past year, attended by 871 men and 146 women.

The news has been welcomed by safety groups, which say it send a clear sign that the message is getting through to drink drivers.

Completing a course gives the motorist the opportunity to shave a quarter off their driving ban.

After being referred by Lancashire magistrates, they have to complete a 16-hour course, which includes tuition on alcohol abuse, raising awareness and being taught the impact of alcohol on health.

The number of drivers opting in has increased by 147 compared to 2003. Alan Dean, from Ashton, Preston, became a member of Roadpeace after wife Amanda was killed on the A59 in December 2000.

He said: "We can tell children, 'that's enough' but who tells us?"

Almost one in five drink drivers attending a TTC course were convicted after being caught the "morning after".

Urge

Alan added: " The fact that many people, don't realise alcohol could still be in their blood the next morning is a worry"

TTC Group director Jenny Feehan said: "Many people are still eligible to do the course and I urge them to contact us.

"Most people agree to attend the course just to get their driving ban reduced.

"But they soon realise the education benefits which change their views on drink driving and entitles them to reduced insurance."

A majority of people who attend the course also say they would not have committed the offence if information had been available.

Now the course has been opened up to employers so that those who drive as part of their job can get educated before falling foul of the law.

Deaths as a direct result of drink driving have increased from 460 to 560 from 1999 to 2003 – a 22% increase.

TCC's other director, Graham Wynn recently voiced his concerns to Road Safety Minister David Jamieson at a meeting in Westminster to discuss the new Road Safety Bill.

He praised Lancashire road safety professionals who had "done much" to improve road safety in the county.