Drink-drive deaths down as campaign intensifies

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A SHARP decrease last year in the number of deaths related to drink-driving accidents was disclosed by the Government yesterday as it launched its summer campaign to persuade motorists to stay sober.

Kenneth Carlisle, Minister for Roads and Traffic, welcomed the drop - from 820 deaths in 1990 to about 700 in 1991 - which he said was partly attributable to publicity by the Department of Transport. 'But there is no room for complacency. These are still 700 deaths too many,' he said.

This year's pounds 500,000 campaign, the first to be launched since the new drink-drive provisions of the Road Traffic Act 1991 came into force earlier this month, is targeted at male motorists aged between 18 and 35, who the department believes are most at risk in the summer months.

It features six radio advertisements, to be broadcast on 70 stations, focusing on individual incidents on the theme of 'Drinking and Driving Wrecks Lives' and a press advertisement warning of the tougher penalties in the new Act. The new offence of causing death by careless driving carries a maximum prison term of five years and an unlimited fine.

The launch was attended by Ann Greetham, whose 21-year-old son Paul died in an alcohol-related accident five years ago. She features in one of the advertisements. She had agreed to be involved 'to make people aware of the pain they can cause if they drink and drive'.

According to DoT research, the proportion of men who drink after driving has dropped steadily from 29 per cent in 1979 to 13 per cent in 1992. There has also been a significant change in attitudes over the period, with 75 per cent of people regarding driving after one or two drinks as dangerous compared with 38 per cent in 1979.

The RAC welcomed the campaign, saying that summer was a critical time for drink-driving.