“IT’S the most horrible job in the world,” said Sergeant Tony Crisp on the police road unit’s painful task of informing next of kin about a loved-one’s death on our county’s ever-busy roads.
Having witnessed numerous tragic incidents as a result of drink driving, he’s hoping the ongoing campaign will make a difference in persuading festive revellers not to get behind the wheel.
In a concerning development, he said it’s no longer just groups of young partygoers prepared to risk drinking and driving, but a far wider spectrum of society willing to break legal limits.
“I’ve been to hundreds of accident sites, some of them have been down to excess alcohol and it’s such a waste of life.
“The message we’re trying to get across to people is that they should just think before they get in a car if they’ve had a drink.
“Get your friends to drive, get a bus or a taxi.
People are still taking a risk of driving after drinking and in doing so are increasing the risk of hurting themselves and killing others.
We have had nine road deaths already this year across the Worthing and Chichester area,” added Mr Crisp with regret.
He admits the team is already facing major issues from speeding drivers and those illegally using mobiles while driving.
“The thing with drink is that it can affect different people in different ways, your age and size play a factor – for some people who don’t normally drink, even one glass can make them quite drunk.”
In Mr Crisp’s experience, one of the key weapons in tackling the issue is education through talking to schools and colleges across the area.
This includes teaming up with the fire services for a visually striking tactic of displaying a crashed car (which appeared in Worthing on December 10 near to the Guildbourne Centre), which re-enforces the often tragic consequences of drink driving.
According to his colleague, police officer Neil Walker, it seems the dramatic series of road crash TV adverts may have lost its power to shock with the public.
He reveals that, despite it being more socially unacceptable to drive after a drinking, incident rates did not appear to be significantly improving.
For the last five years, West Sussex County Council road safety officer Anjila Clark has been assisting police.
She said: “I really hope we do get across the message to people about drink driving as cars can be killing machines.
“People have to realise that it’s not just the person who is injured or killed by the actions of someone who has been drink driving, but it is their families as well.”
Anjila said a rising trend in house parties means people are more liable to be over the limit without realising it due to generous measures being poured.
But she is optimistic methods such as talking to pub regulars with the Worthing and Shoreham Road Safety Action group, offering a competition to design anti-drink driving videos at www.sussexsaferroads.gov.uk and visits to schools and colleges warning of drink and drug misuse while driving are getting through to residents.
For those in outlying rural areas, they also target shops providing a range of advice in the ongoing drive to save lives on our roads.