Police target city and rural drink-drivers

The police will be out in force during the holiday period and are warning drivers that they can expect to be stopped at checkpoints during the coming weeks.

Tasman road policing team leader Senior Sergeant Grant Andrews said the police would be very visible throughout the region.

The police would be in rural areas as well as more populated areas and would conduct a large number of breath-testing operations, he said. The checkpoints would be set up during the day as well as at night.

"If you are going to be out and about over this holiday period, you will be stopped and breath-tested and those over the limit will be prosecuted."

The police would also visit licensed premises in rural areas and ask them how they were going to get home.

Too many country people were still dying on country roads, he said.

As well as focusing on alcohol, the police would be targeting speeding drivers.

Slow drivers who impeded traffic and did not pull over and let traffic pass would also be stopped. "That's a large issue for us," he said.

The big thing for the police during the holiday period would be "being out there and being seen".

In the past four weeks, the police in the Nelson area had stopped 3500 drivers and this focus would continue.

"The feedback we are getting from people at checkpoints is that they expect to be breath-tested when they are out and most people are making good choices about having a sober driver."

With the party season, including work Christmas parties, in full swing, Mr Andrews reminded people that friends, family and employers also had a responsibility to ensure that people made safe choices about getting home.

For every 100 drivers who died as a result of driving with drugs or alcohol in their system, 54 of their passengers and 24 sober road users also died, he said. "That's significant. If someone is intoxicated and is going to get behind the wheel of a car, you have a responsibility not just to them, but to yourself and other road users to stop them from driving."

The long-term consequences of people who were badly injured in car accidents came at significant cost and injuries could stay with people for the rest of their lives.

Mr Andrews reminded people that as well as making sure they had a sober driver on the night, they needed to think about how they would get home the next day if they had had a big night out. People were still getting caught over the limit the following day, in particular, drivers under 20, for whom the alcohol limit was zero.

He cautioned that if people had a big night out, they needed to wait 10 to 12 hours after their last drink before driving again.

Those undertaking long journeys needed to plan for both legs of the trip. Driver fatigue was a factor in a large number of crashes, he said.