IT’s a familiar story – a missed last bus, not having enough money for a taxi, then a potentially fatal decision skewed by drink to chance the drive home. Despite the laws, high-profile campaigns and a huge change in social attitudes, hundreds still die in road accidents in which drink driving played a part. And, of course, for every death is a family destroyed; loved ones consumed by grief and lives changed forever.
The figures do not tell us, also, how many people have been left disabled or disfigured as a result of drinking and driving, perhaps to the extent that lives have been irrevocably damaged or livelihoods lost.
Drink driving remains a menace, even though 50 years of campaigning against it have wrought profound changes in perceived acceptable behaviours and brought the numbers whose lives are blighted or destroyed relentlessly downwards. Thirty-six years ago, 1,640 people died in road accidents in which drink was a factor. The twin-track approach of hard-hitting advertising and relentless enforcement by police, has been a major success.
But there is still a hard core of offenders out there, some full of contemptible bravado about how much they can drink without being affected, others cocksure about not getting caught. However successful the anti-drink driving campaign has been, more still needs to be done. The annual blitz focuses minds, but it remains a year-round problem and the continuing relentlessness of policing is part of the answer, of course, This is a battle in which no quarter should be given. For at this time of year, more than any other, lives really are at stake.