Drink and drug-drive arrests ‘tip of a very big iceberg’ Essex road safety chief warns

Roadside drug test. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Roadside drug test. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY - Credit: Archant

A call for motorists to take more responsibility for their driving has been made by a senior road safety officer in Essex.

Adam Pipe, casualty reduction manager at Essex Police. Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGE

Adam Pipe, casualty reduction manager at Essex Police. Picture: ANDREW PARTRIDGE - Credit: Andrew Partridge

The annual Christmas anti-drink and drug-driving campaign begins on Friday, and in the last 12 months in Essex, 12% of crashes involved a driver who was over the drug or alcohol limit, or who failed to give a sample – while the number of drug-drivers is now almost matching those breaking the alcohol law.

More officers are being trained and equipped to carry out roadside drug tests.

Adam Pipe, force casualty reduction manager, said he thought police were only arresting “the tip of a very big iceberg” when it came to drink and drug-driving.

“I’m really worried about that,” he said.

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“This is a massive area where the public can have a part to play, in telling us who, where and when there are drink or drug-drivers. That is where we will be most effective, by targeting offenders.”

Mr Pipe said the public could also help by providing dash cam footage of bad driving, which has been made easier to do online via the Essex Police website. A campaign urging motorists to do so launches formally next month, which it is expected will see the current 30 clips currently submitted each day go up.

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“If you believe the car behind you could be filming you, that could have a positive impact on people’s behaviour,” he added.

Driver behaviour, not just in choosing to drive while under the influence of alcohol or dugs, is an area where more action is needed.

Mr Pipe said in-vehicle distractions – such as mobile phones – continued to be a real problem in Essex, as well as driving too close to the car in front.

He said: “If people change their behaviour they might find their journey to and from work every day could improve.”

There is some good news though, as the number of people being killed or seriously injured on the county’s roads is falling “significantly”.

Last year from April to November there were 710 fatalities or serious casualties, compared to 620 so far this year in the same period.

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