Monday 16 August saw the start of a week-long National Roads Partnership campaign that aims to raise awareness across the UK about the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs.
Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service teamed up with Merseyside Police and St Helens Council’s Road Safety Team at a road safety awareness event in Church Square, St Helens to mark the regional launch of the campaign.
Crowds gathered to see a demonstration of how firefighters would carry out the controlled release of someone trapped in a car following a collision. During this exercise, they used specialist equipment to cut and remove large portions of the car’s shell to allow the safe extraction of the casualty.
In addition to the rescue demonstration, the Council’s Road Safety Team and officers from the Community Policing Team in St Helens were on hand to offer advice and answer queries about the dangers of drug driving.
Chief Inspector Paul Holden, from St Helens Community Policing, said: “It’s always disheartening to see people acting so carelessly by choosing to take drugs and drive. The consequences of drug driving are the same as for drink driving and there is absolutely no excuse.
“Taking drugs severely impairs your abilities behind the wheel, affecting concentration and reaction times – all of which can have fatal consequences.
“It can take days and weeks before some drugs are out of your system completely, so even occasional users may still test positive and be guilty of driving under the influence of drugs.
“Please, keep yourselves and others safe. Just don’t do it."
Paul Kay, Group Manager for Community Safety at Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, said: “Every year, countless numbers of drivers are either arrested or, worse still, involved in collisions that result in serious injury or death. In 2020, our firefighters attended 605 road traffic collisions caused by a number of factors, but many of them could have been prevented.
“Never get behind the wheel of a vehicle if you have been drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs. Any drug – including prescription medication – can affect your ability to drive. Any medication that may cause drowsiness or carries a ‘do not operate machinery’ warning should be avoided when driving. If in doubt, speak to your doctor or chemist.
“We are all road users - whether that be as a pedestrian, cyclist, horse rider, driver or motorcyclist - and we are all exposed to the risk of using our roads. We must all share the responsibility and do our bit to make our roads safer. We are committed to reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads and will continue to work alongside Merseyside Police and other partner agencies to do so.”
Councillor Jeanie Bell, Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities, said: “It’s great to see community safety partners come together to hold informative public events like this as we raise awareness of important campaigns like Drug Driving Week. It’s been a great day and I’m pleased to have been able to come along and show my support.
“There is simply no excuse for drug driving which has serious consequences. Not only are you risking throwing your whole life away– facing prison, losing your licence and job – you are also putting the lives of others at risk.
“Holding events like this helps get the message across and will help save lives.”