Steer clear of alcohol if you’re driving – all year long

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If there’s just one gift you can give this Christmas make it a decision to stay alcohol-free when you get behind the wheel.

And if you’re thinking: ‘Oh no, The News is banging on about drink-driving again’ we make no apologies.

For we shall continue to go on and on about this subject until it becomes as socially unacceptable as driving without a seat belt or smoking in public buildings.

We shall go on about it until no police officer has to knock on a family’s front door to tell them a loved one has been killed or maimed – the victim of a drunk driver.

Such news is awful enough at any time of year, but at Christmas... remember, the festive period will never be the same for any member of that family.

Today on page 13 we launch our annual anti-drink-drive campaign.

It’s called Steer Clear and does what it says on the tin.

If you are driving this month and are the designated driver for your group, steer clear of booze.

Stick to soft drinks or coffee.

Dozens of pubs, bars, clubs and cafes who admire our crusade join us each year to offer that driver free alcohol-free drinks.

As editor Mark Waldron says: ‘Please encourage your friends and family to be responsible and steer clear of alcohol if they are planning to get behind the wheel this festive period.’

The campaign is launched as Hampshire police crack down on drink and drug-impaired drivers this Christmas. Figures show six people were killed and 32 others seriously injured in incidents where alcohol was a factor between January and August.

A total of 1,569 drink-drivers were caught between January and September – down five per cent on the same period last year. But police say this figure is still far too high.

And remember the lasting effects of a skinful. Officers are also looking out for motorists who get behind the wheel the morning after a heavy night out who may still be over the legal drink-drive limit.

And while you’re at it, why not take the pledge not to touch alcohol and drive for the rest of the year too?