Railway breath tests as police seek to educate

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RAIL passengers have been targeted by police in the latest campaign to cut down on drink driving.

Suffolk Police teamed up with British Transport Police to offer commuters voluntary breath tests as they got off the train at Bury St Edmunds railway station.

Inspector Bruce Gent, of Suffolk’s roads policing unit, said the idea was to educate people who may have had a quick drink at lunch or after work before catching the train home, that they could still be over the limit.

“The aim is to reduce drink driving on our roads and with it casualties and deaths, by education.

“There were 20 road deaths in Suffolk in 2010. Of those two of those were drink-drive related. On average we have 80 drink- related road casualties each year,” he said.

Police were at the Bury station on Thursday and Friday night.

Of the five people who gave voluntary breath tests, one was found to be close to the drink drive limit, while another was twice the legal limit – police assisted him in getting a taxi home.

“I think they were surprised at how close to or over the limit they were,” said Insp Gent. The message is that there are no fail- safes as people’s bodies dispose of alcohol at different rates. The only ways to be safe is not to drink if you are going to drive.”

Suffolk Police hoped the voluntary breath test scheme would reinforce its view to commuters thinking of driving home from the station, that just one drink can take you over the limit, and if you are going to have a drink, to arrange for a lift home or catch a taxi or bus.

Police are also stressing to people that its not just the danger of causing a serious crash that drink drivers need to be aware of. Those taking the risk could also lose their job and suffer social embarrassment.

“There are still people who choose to ignore drink-drive messages and these people need to realise they could end up paying with their job or even their life,” said Insp Gent.

“We do not want to jeopardise someone’s career by prosecuting them for drink driving but we will if it is necessary.”

Commuters were due to be offered voluntary breath tests at Stowmarket train station last night. Police and British Transport Police will be back there tonight, while next Thursday and Friday will see the scheme move on to Ipswich.