Essex: Rise in young drink-drivers

AN increasing number of young drivers in Essex are putting lives at risk by drink driving, a senior police officer has warned.

The worrying trend in alcohol misuse on the roads was revealed at the launch of a new initiative to combat the number of young drivers who are killed or seriously injured in traffic accidents in this county.

“In the past we have had a good level of compliance over drink driving, but increasingly young drivers are slipping back into thinking that they can get away with it,” said Adam Pipe, casualty reduction manager for Essex Police.

He added that there were also a high number of incidents of young people texting and making phone calls at the wheel.

“Anti-social driving affects every town in Essex,” said Mr Pipe. “There are areas where young drivers gather, like supermarket car parks, and this becomes more of an issue in the warmer months.”

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Clacton and Harwich have both been identified as hotspots for anti-social driving among young people and targeted campaigns will soon be launched to try and combat this.

Essex Police, in conjunction with Essex County Council and the other emergency services are also stepping up the message they send to young drivers.

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In 2010 there were 132 people who were killed or seriously injured (KSI) on the county’s roads in an incident where a 17 to 25 year old was responsible.

Essex Causality Reduction Board has already had success with the launch of a computer game, Reaction Road, which highlights forgotten aspects of the Highway Code in an entertaining way. The game has been played more than 470,000 times on the website

Councillor Norman Hume, chairman of the Essex Casualty Reduction Board, said: “Getting young drivers to reconsider and change their driving behaviour is vital in order to reduce KSI in Essex.

“The number of people who have played Reaction Road is truly impressive and clearly demonstrates that we’ve chosen the right method to engage with young drivers.”

Paul Bird, highways and transportation manager for Essex County Council, said that with the launch of the new campaign they would be focussing on getting the message through to young people by using “subliminal” techniques, such as the computer game.

“We have to understand that the council is not necessarily and organisation that young people want to engage with,” he said. “We have to try to capture the imagination of young people.

“The game was launched unbranded and we’ve have seen impressive results. At least 16,000 people from Essex have played it.”

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