Keeping roads safe over Christmas

TAYSIDE Police joined with all other Scottish Forces on Monday to in launch the national Festive Road Safety Campaign.

Chief Constable of Tayside, Justine Curran, joined Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh for the national launch of this year’s campaign.

In Tayside, as with other parts of Scotland, the focus of the four-week campaign will once again be predominantly drink and drug drivers.

With the continued support of the public, Tayside Police has made it clear that wherever they detect irresponsible drivers they will be put before the courts to answer for their actions at the earliest opportunity.

There is an enormous impact on a person who is detected by police drink or drug driving and also on their family.

In many cases having a valid driving licence is a pre-requisite to employment and this is made all the more important within an increasingly difficult job market, where people often have no option but to commute long distances to work. Losing a driving licence or the vehicle itself has a major impact on the employment prospects of an offender.

A whole family can rely on the car for getting from A to B and lifestyles are radically changed by a driving ban. Many routine journeys, such as a drive to the shops, or dropping the children off at school are no longer possible.

In the past, too many drivers have failed to heed these warnings and are now experiencing at first hand the impact of their own irresponsible actions. They may have been fortunate not to have been involved in a collision, injured someone as a result of their actions or worse. But they will be fined and lose their driving licence. Their lives will change as a result.

But, whatever the impact upon the convicted drink or drug driver who is caught at the wheel, they should consider themselves to be lucky to have been caught. The repercussions do not stand comparison with the individual who drinks alcohol or take drugs and drives and is then involved in a collision, perhaps leaving innocent victims badly injured or dead.

In such circumstances, many lives are changed forever.

Tayside Police will make full use of the Vehicle Forfeiture Initiative which allows the courts to order the seizure and forfeiture of a drink driver’s vehicle when they have had a previous conviction within the last five years for a drink or drug driving related offence, or have a pending case of a similar nature.

To coincide with the start of this year’s campaign, these provisions have been further extended and will now include first time drink drive offenders who are three times the drink/drive limit or more as well as those who refuse to provide a sample for analysis.

Previous statistics for Tayside show that this would amount to approximately an additional 100 drivers over the last year potentially losing their vehicles as a result of their irresponsible actions.

Such measures undoubtedly have significant personal and financial implications on any inconsiderate driver who is tempted to take the risk and drive when they have been drinking, or abusing drugs.

These offenders will be kept in custody to appear at court on the first lawful day after their arrest. This might well include the extended weekend and festive holiday period.

Chief Inspector Sandy Bowman, head of road policing in Tayside, said: “We welcome the extension of the vehicle forfeiture provisions and hope they serve as a further deterrent to the potential drink or drug driver.

“Tayside Police is pleased to make them aware that we continue to receive a significant volume of calls from the public to report suspected drink or drug drivers.”

Any member of the public who wishes to report a drink or drug driver is urged to contact Tayside Police on 0300 111 2222, or the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If you believe it is an emergency situation, ‘phone 999.