Booze and drugs link to fatal crashes

ALCOHOL or drugs were responsible for nearly a fifth of all fatal road accidents in Suffolk last year, new figures out today reveal.

Craig Robinson

ALCOHOL or drugs were responsible for nearly a fifth of all fatal road accidents in Suffolk last year, new figures out today reveal.

Police have this morning fired a warning to motorists who continue to flout the law and put people's lives at risk.

Alcohol or drugs were identified as a contributing factor in five of the 29 (17.2%) fatal road traffic collisions in Suffolk in 2008.

The figures have been released to coincide with the start of a month long drink and drug drive enforcement campaign.

Roadside checks will be stepped up and officers will be breath-testing anyone involved in a collision, however minor.

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Chief Inspector Mike Bacon warned: “If you drink drive or take drugs and drive, you are more likely to get caught than ever before.

“Suffolk Constabulary is committed to tackling this issue and we are warning those who break the law in this way that they will be caught.

“The police are well aware of the various means used by drink and drug drivers to avoid detection. We are taking steps to make the roads safer by making sure that those who drink or drug drive are arrested and face the consequences of their actions.

“By drinking or taking drugs and driving you could lose your license, your livelihood and ruin your life. Your actions can also ruin the lives of others, by causing serious injury or even killing an innocent road user or pedestrian.

“Be sensible, be safe, and arrange a lift home, or appoint a designated driver. If you are going for a night out, remember to book a cab, choose a nominated driver or, if you are at a friend's house, stay over for the night.”

Ch insp Bacon said they were also urging members of the public to report anyone who was behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“If you know of someone who is drink or drug driving then please call the police,” he said. “They are a danger to themselves, to you, your family and others, and they should be stopped.”

n Anyone who suspects someone they know of drink or drug driving is asked to report them immediately to the police on 01473 613500.

A FATHER of two girls killed by a drink driver has warned that far too many motorists are still getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Phil Stoddart said not enough people thought about the consequences of their actions and the devastating impact they could have.

His daughters Claire, 18, and Jenny, 15, were killed, along with close friend Carla Took, 18, in a two-car accident on the A12 at Blythburgh, near Southwold, on July 1, 2006.

The crash also claimed the lives Simon Bonner, 40, and Kim Abbott, 41, both from Yoxford, who were in the car driven by Morphey.

The teenage girls had been celebrating the end of their exams at a rock concert in Ipswich shortly before the tragedy.

Army corporal Ben Morphey, of High Street, Yoxford, then 22, was jailed for eight-and-a-half years after admitting causing death by careless driving while unfit due to drink. The sentence was later reduced by two years on appeal.

Mr Stoddart, from Lowestoft, said: “There are really still too many people not thinking about the consequences. Anything to get it into people's minds is going to be good.

“It's not just youngsters. There are a lot of people - particularly blokes my age in their middle years - who think they are untouchable. They need to wake up to the dangers of drink driving.

“Some individuals are totally unaware of the consequences. That's where age does come into it. When you're younger life seems to be a lot cheaper because you haven't experienced that much. Therefore you are probably more willing to take risks and be reckless.

“Its symptomatic of our society - people seem to care less about the consequences and are not frightened of what will happen. If they drink drive and lose their job for example they can claim benefit, it doesn't seem that bad.

“However, what they don't really understand is the trauma that it can cause the drink drivers themselves, knowing they have killed someone. There is also obviously the trauma caused to all the families involved. It is devastating.”