Police launched the annual winter drink drive operation which will once again feature random breath tests at vehicle checkpoints throughout December.
Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray explained: “Our message is very simple; Never ever drink and drive. Just one drink can impair your decision making. Just one drink can cause a collision. Just one drink could kill.
“Across the country, road policing officers, local and neighbourhood policing teams and our TSG colleagues will again be using legislation introduced last year, to set up vehicle checkpoints and carrying out random breath tests as very visible, physical deterrent.
“We are determined to catch those people who take life-threatening, unacceptable, and simply stupid risks.”
Police also today published a report compiled by the Operation Support Department Statistician, detailing statistics on Drink and Drug Driving in Northern Ireland for the last five years.
Quoting information from the report, Assistant Chief Constable Gray said: “During last year’s operation, we carried out over 12,600 preliminary breath tests at the roadside.
“At one end of the spectrum, we stopped drivers who were so drunk, they could barely talk, never mind drive a car.
“At the other, we detected some drivers who had gone out socialising and not intended to drive, but their circumstances changed and they decided to take a risk.
“Now for some of those people, they later passed the evidential test, so they may think they had a lucky escape.
“Considering that statistics detailed in our report show that one in four (24.6%) of fatal collisions throughout all of 2016 in Northern Ireland were attributed to a principal cause related to ‘drink/drugs – driver/rider’, the highest level recorded in the last five years, I believe it is the other innocent road users, passengers and pedestrians who had the lucky escape.”
In addition to running operations to catch drink drivers throughout the day and night, in the weeks leading up to Christmas and into the New Year, Police will again coordinate road safety operations in border counties with colleagues from An Garda Síochána Traffic Corp.
Assistant Chief Constable Gray continued:“Do not take the risk. The consequence of taking just one drink can be catastrophic.
“In addition to the checkpoints, any driver or motorcyclist we stop, whether for speeding, using a mobile phone, or committing any moving traffic offence can expect to be breathalysed. So too can anyone involved in a collision or who we suspect may have consumed alcohol or taken drugs.
“Our aim with this operation is to keep people safe. People need to put as much effort into planning how to get home safely, as they do planning their night out. I do not want police officers knocking on doors at any time of the year, but especially over Christmas and the New Year, to tell families that a loved one has been killed on the roads. This applies not only to road users, but also to pedestrians and cyclists.
“We all need to exercise caution and put road safety first. Road users need to make extra effort to look out for pedestrians and cyclists, particularly along rural roads. Pedestrians and cyclists should wear bright clothing, reflective jackets or armbands where possible to ensure they can be seen, and cyclists must use good quality front and rear lights.
“If everyone slowed down, did not drive after drinking or taking drugs, wore a seatbelt and drove with greater care and attention then together we can save lives on our roads.”