Fewer motorists were caught drink-driving throughout December 2018 than the previous year – despite a rise in the number of drivers tested.
In December 2018, 1,163 drivers were tested for alcohol, with 47 drivers either testing positive or refusing to comply. In December 2017, 922 were tested and 57 were positive or refused.
Inspector Steve Minnikin of Cumbria Constabulary’s Mobile Support Group, said: “Our officers were out in numbers over the Christmas period, breath testing more than 1,000 drivers across Cumbria. Hopefully, this is a sign that the message is getting through to people about the dangers of drink-driving and how seriously the offence is treated by ourselves and the courts.
“Drink-driving has been socially unacceptable for some years now. However, it is the potential outcomes of drink-driving – losing your life, taking someone else’s, losing your job – which is starting to hit home.
“But the fact is, one driver drinking before getting behind the wheel is one to many so our officers will continue to prioritise ridding the roads of those who put all out lives and risk by driving whilst unfit.”
Despite the fall in the number of drivers caught drink-driving, the number of drivers who failed drug testing rose from 19 in December 2017 to 22 in December 2018.
The roadside drugs wipe tests test a person’s saliva to find if they have taken drugs such as cocaine and cannabis before getting behind the wheel.
Insp Minnikin said: “We are seeing an increase in the numbers of people who are getting behind the wheel after taking drugs which leave them in no fit state to drive.
“However, we are also better prepared than ever before to catch those drivers who take the chance and get behind the wheel. We have a great many officers who are now trained to use drugs wipes to catch drug-drivers. In addition we are training more and more officers to undertake field impairment tests, which will further increase the chances of us detecting these dangerous and selfish road users who are unfit to drive.
“Every time such as driver is caught, potentially, you are looking at a serious or potentially fatal collision avoided.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria, Peter McCall, welcomed the focus on making the county’s roads safer.
Mr McCall said: “We are committed to improving road safety and promoting safer driving in Cumbria, not least because time and again, the public tell me it is of real concern – as last year’s Summer Survey results illustrate. It is essential to get the message out to people that we all have a personal responsibility to help keep our roads safe.
“It is a sad fact that most accidents are caused by our own unsafe behaviours, such as driving while drunk or on drugs, driving at inappropriate speeds, not wearing seatbelts or by allowing ourselves to be distracted through using mobile phones and other devices while driving.
“Throughout the year, Cumbria police will continue to run targeted operations across the county to enforce the law on drink and drug driving: if caught, you can face an unlimited fine, disqualification for driving, and a long prison sentence.”