Who’s taking you home - a taxi or a hearse?

Gerry McCloskey, centre, front row, Chairman of the Derry Licensed Vintners Association, pictured with members of the Foyle & District Road Safety Committee and representatives from the emergency services at the launch of Christmas Drink Drive campaign beer mats at the Crescent Link Fire Station. Included are, from left, front row, Alwyn Warnock and District Commander Barry McDowell, NI Fire and Rescue Service, back row, Station Officer Sammy Nicholl, NI Ambulance Service, Inspector Stephen Haslett, PSNI, James Stewart, Davy Jackson and Albert Smallwoods. INLS4915-109KM
Gerry McCloskey, centre, front row, Chairman of the Derry Licensed Vintners Association, pictured with members of the Foyle & District Road Safety Committee and representatives from the emergency services at the launch of Christmas Drink Drive campaign beer mats at the Crescent Link Fire Station. Included are, from left, front row, Alwyn Warnock and District Commander Barry McDowell, NI Fire and Rescue Service, back row, Station Officer Sammy Nicholl, NI Ambulance Service, Inspector Stephen Haslett, PSNI, James Stewart, Davy Jackson and Albert Smallwoods. INLS4915-109KM

What type of vehicle would you like to take you home from your Christmas night out - a police car, an ambulance, a taxi or a hearse?

What type of vehicle would you like to take you home from your Christmas night out - a police car, an ambulance, a taxi or a hearse?

This is the theme of this year’s anti-drink driving campaign which was launched at Crescent Link Fire Station on Friday morning.

Beer mats with the message ‘Who’s taking you home tonight’ are to be distributed throughout pubs in Derry with the message ‘Never Drink and Drive.’

The campaign is being backed by Derry Vintner’s Association, Foyle and District Road safety committee, the PSNI, Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

Paramedic Sammy Nicholl who has seen at first hand the carnage caused by drink driving said the repercussions can be devastating.

“It’s the people left behind who have to pick up the pieces- mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. Go out and enjoy yourself but do not drink and drive.”

PSNI Inspector Stephen Haslett warned that just one drink can impair driving.

“We would prefer to see people planning their transport,” he said. “We will be working closely with the Garda organising joint checkpoints for drink driving.

“Don’t ever take a drink when driving.”

He revealed that last Christmas 273 people were detected driving while over the legal alcohol limit.

“It’s the time of the year. People who never think of drinking and driving get caught in the party atmosphere and think they’ll be alright. It’s never alright.”

He also warned of the dangers of driving the morning after a night out.

“People are aware of dangers the morning after,” he said, “but they don’t believe it will happen to them. They don’t think the consequences through.

“The consequences of drink driving are that you will lose your licence for a minimum of 12 months. But far worse of killing yourself or someone else, or injuring someone else and the consequences of living with that.”

District commander of the NIFRS Barry McDowell says drinking and driving can affect lives forever.

“Have a designated driver,” he said. “Drinking and driving changes lives forever. People think they are ok to drive with one drink but time and time again we see the consequences at the side of the road.

“We would ask people to be careful the morning after. Even if people have done all the right things - and taken a taxi or a lift, the drink can still be in your system the next morning.”

David Jackson of the Foyle and District Road safety committee which this year celebrated its 50th anniversary said the anti drink driving beer mats will be distributed to licensed premises by chair of the Vintner’s Association Gerry McCloskey.

“Our message is - who’s taking you home tonight?,” he said. “No drink is the best idea.”