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Top effort to stop drunk driving

Last updated 05:00 09/01/2013

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Northern News

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Northland police have stepped up their patrols to curb drink driving over the summer holiday season.

Police here will be carrying out high visibility patrols for most of the summer.

Operation Summer, which goes through to February 10, will include breath testing checkpoints, foot patrols, and hotel checks.

Police breath-tested every driver they stopped over the Christmas period until January 7 and lowered the speed tolerance level to 4kmh over the posted limit.

With the summer party season in full swing, Northland Police were breath testing in a bid to stop drink driving.

Northland road policing manager Inspector Murray Hodson says crashes involving drink driving remain a serious issue and play a major part in the road toll.

Mr Hodson says conducting high-profile intensive alcohol checkpoints over summer are an attempt to deter all drink drivers.

Mr Hodson says family and friends play an important role in stopping drunk drivers getting behind the wheel.

And he says that, while the problem is not unique to Northland, it is a problem here.

"Northland is one of the most rural districts in the country and in some areas rural people continue to drive after drinking alcohol.

It's not good enough. Driving is a privilege, not a right.

"Stay the night with family or friends or arrange a sober driver."

Mr Hodson says police will be patrolling rural roads as well as main arterial routes and will also be relying on the community to report any instances of drink driving.

He says that at 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (adult legal limit), an adult driver is about 16 times likely to die in a crash as the same driver with a zero blood alcohol level.

The risk for teenage drivers is greater than for those aged over 20.

Along with Operation Summer, police are conducting Operation Crossroads, a joint Australia and New Zealand road safety campaign that will take place during the official holiday period.

It aims to increase driver awareness of safe driving to reduce road crashes.

"This means we will have a real focus on keeping Northland's roads safe for our local people and visitors," says Mr Hodson.

"We want everyone to enjoy their holiday and to celebrate . . . with loved ones, not spend it mourning the death of family or friends on the road."

Tips for a safe journey:

Plan your trip - take plenty of breaks and share the driving

Be patient

Drive to the conditions - the speed limit is not a target

Ensure everyone is wearing a seatbelt or child restraint

Do not drive after drinking alcohol

Respect other road users, including cyclists and pedestrians.

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