ONE pint or two? - How many drinks would you have and still risk getting behind the wheel?
This is the question being asked by Lancashire Constabulary as they launch their annual Christmas drink Drive Campaign.
And in a twist to this year’s campaign launch Lancashire Constabulary’s Assistant Chief Constable Andy Cooke challenged Observer Reporter Vanessa Cornall to drive ‘under the influence’ and see how drinking really affects your senses and reactions ...
AN AMERICAN invention aptly named "Beer Goggles" - is a pair of goggles that induce the same disorientating feelings and lack of sensory control as alcohol causes.
Assistant Chief Constable Cooke said: "The whole point of today is to spread the message Don’t drink and Drive.
"Drink driving can’t result in you killing yourself, someone else or at the very least being disqualified from driving for a minimum of 12 months.
"Too many road accidents in Lancashire are down to drink or drug driving. Two- and-half per cent of all cars stopped in the county are under the influence. This is two and a half per cent too much, even though nationally the average is four per cent. We carry out many drink drive checks because we think it is very important and it could ultimately save a life."
As I slid behind the wheel of the dual controlled black Ford Focus I was quietly confident I would be able to complete the challenge without too much of a problem " well that was the case until I pulled the googles over my eyes!
Instantly, I felt disorientated, anxious and unable to concentrate.
Taking orders from the driving instructor sat next to me was virtually impossible as I got to grips with his car.
On his command I lurched forward - I tried to focus immediately in front of me and keeping the wheel straight.
But no sooner had I set off, than the instructor brought us to a jerky stop.
Removing my goggles I could see, we had veered almost half a metre right and were right on course to hit a cone.
OK, so it wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought it was going to be. Turning the car around for the return journey through the obstacle course, I was shocked to see my eyes had not adjusted to the googles.
However, deciding to throw caution to the wind I picked up more speed and made it though the final obstacles unscathed.
My next challenge was a side of the road drug level test.
Police Constable Steve Barnes talked me through some of the easier tests such as looking at pupil sizes and comparing them to a chart and the counting test which enables the drug user to give himself away by counting from one to thirty in rhythm with their heart rate. A sober person’s heart rate is much slower than that of a person under the influence of drugs.
My final challenge was the heel to toe walk along a straight line.
I as got into the start position, I was instantly very aware of feeling unsteady on my feet. I was unable to step forward without having my arms out stretched. It was definitely safe to say that I failed this challenge wearing the goggles.
Inspector Martin Bishop, of Lancashire’s Road Policing Unit said: "Our message is simple, don’t Drink or Drug Drive. If you do you will be treated like a criminal dragged through the courts and lose your licence.
"We are not trying to ruin anybody’s fun but one in eight road fatalities in Lancashire is drink or drug related.
"People need to think about the consequences of their actions " at the very least they will lose their licence and will then have to struggle getting the kids to school, getting to work and explaining to friends and family why they can no longer drive.
"Remember its not just driving after you have had a drink " if you drink and then have to drive early in the morning the alcohol will still be in your system and you will still be under the influence."
Lancashire Police will be increasing the amount of stop and checks between now and the new year.
After trying out the Beer Goggles, the prospect of facing somebody intoxicated driving a car is a very scary thought.