100,000 signature target for Swanswell's drink-drive education calls

17 November 2014

One hundred thousand signatures is the target to get Swanswell’s calls for better drink-drive education debated in the House of Commons.

The national recovery charity recently launched a campaign at the three main party conferences to introduce short, compulsory workshops into the driver learner process to help people better understand the consequences of driving after having alcohol.

It includes a government e-petition for people to pledge their support by March 2015, encouraging MPs to consider the need for better drink-drive education.

Swanswell’s using Alcohol Awareness Week and Road Safety Week (17 to 23 November 2014) to combine messages around the dangers of alcohol use before getting behind the wheel, as part of the campaign.

During the week, the charity will be taking to social media to show a number of short videos that emphasise the need to ‘drive sober’, and include interviews with Brake – the charity behind Road Safety Week – and West Mercia Police.

In 2012, 230 people died in drink-drive incidents and almost 10,000 more were either injured or seriously injured, costing society hundreds of millions of pounds a year to deal with.

Although education already exists around how alcohol affects judgement, reaction times and someone’s ability to drive safely, Swanswell believes the information may not be in the right place.

Currently, drivers are only offered practical courses about the impact alcohol has on their ability to be safe behind the wheel, once they’ve been convicted of drink-driving – when the damage has already been done.

Swanswell believes that short, practical workshops – like those already available to drink-drivers – should be open to everyone, as a compulsory part of the driver learning process, to help people understand the risks before they can drive.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘Education is key to helping new drivers understand the hazards on the roads – and drink-driving is one that currently doesn’t get the attention it needs.

It’s very difficult for people to visualise how alcohol can affect reaction times, judgement and decision-making in a theory test, but experience shows us that workshops with practical examples do help.

In fact, people who’ve been on our drink-drive education courses tell us that they wouldn’t have got behind the wheel in the first place, if they had known what they do after completing our programmes – that for us speaks volumes.

However, it’s not something we can get the decision-makers to consider introducing without your help – it could save a loved one’s life.’

The campaign is being supported by Jane Marsh from Warwickshire, whose 20-year-old daughter Kelly lost her life after the car she was a passenger in hit a tree on a bend, in November 2005.

The 19-year-old driver was almost twice the legal limit – she received minor injuries.

Jane said: ‘Kelly’s last few moments of her life were sheer terror, I know – I saw it etched on her beautiful face while she laid there in the cold mortuary. She didn’t deserve to die in such a horrific way. No one should.       

Kelly’s human right to live was taken away because someone wanted a drink and thought it was ok to get behind the wheel. Far too many people play Russian roulette with people’s lives every day – there are too many stories like ours, my Kel’s.

I simply do not have the words to tell you what the pain of missing our Kel is like, not just on special days but every single day.

So all I can do is beg all of you with the means to influence and change the law to remember Kel and my family, and the thousands of other families affected by drink-drivers – make education, zero tolerance and tougher penalties your objectives for change.’

To find out more about our drink-drive campaign, visit our campaigns page.







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