Bereaved father in Christmas appeal over drink-driving risks

A FATHER whose son was killed in a crash caused by a drink-driver is urging motorists not to risk more lives during the Christmas period by getting behind the wheel while over the limit.

Tony Davison, from Otley in West Yorkshire, spoke out yesterday about the devastating impact on his family after his 18-year-old son, Adrian, died in a collision caused by a motorist who was over the legal limit.

Mr Davison said: "I was woken up at 3.40am by the police knocking at my door – you know it's not going to be good news. Your head's computing what they're telling you but it doesn't feel real.

"You think you're in a nightmare and are just waiting to wake up. I wouldn't wish it on anybody else, that knock on the door, that death notice being delivered."

Mr Davison had spoken to his son less than 20 minutes before the crash eight years ago.

He said: "I actually spoke to Adrian at 11.45pm on November 3, the accident happened at 12.03am on November 4. I got a text from him and I don't know why but I rang him and spoke to him. I wouldn't normally have done at that time but something made me pick the phone up. Little did I know that would be the last time I'd speak to him."

Adrian was killed in November, 2002. He was the passenger in a car which his best friend, who had been drinking, was driving. Both of them died in the crash on the A660 at Bramhope, near Leeds.

Mr Davison said: "It was a tragic and unnecessary waste of two young lives. I was angry with the driver, who was Adrian's best friend, but I had no bitterness and no hatred – he was such a nice young lad.

"There isn't a day that hasn't gone by that I don't miss (Adrian)."

Mr Davison, who volunteers for West Yorkshire-based road safety charity BRAKE, is urging people to think twice before they get behind the wheel of a vehicle if they have been drinking or taking drugs.

He said: "My message to anyone who thinks that drink or drug driving is worth the risk is simple – it's not.

"If you kill someone you live with it for the rest of your life. You can't calculate a safe drink limit. It's just not worth taking the risk for a couple of pints.

"If you know you're going out, don't take your car – leave the keys at home and remove the temptation to drive."

Last year, police in West Yorkshire stopped 2,404 people on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol during the month of December. Of those stopped, 155 either gave positive breath samples or refused or failed to provide a sample.

A total of 989 collisions were reported in West Yorkshire during this time.

As part of this year's seasonal blitz on drug and drink driving, police are also warning people to be aware of the effects drinking can have on motoring skills the "morning after the night before".

This weekend, officers targeted people who were driving the morning after drinking. Nearly 100 motorists were stopped; only one tested positive for being over the limit.

Chief Inspector Elizabeth Belton, who leads road policing for West Yorkshire Police, said: "I am pleased that only one driver was found to be over the limit during this weekend's operation.

"It hopefully means that people are listening to our message and not drinking and driving or taking drugs and driving. I want to remind motorists that our officers will be out in both marked and unmarked vehicles on all of West Yorkshire's roads.

"They are specially trained to recognise drivers who may have been drinking or taking drugs and if there's any doubt you will be tested. If you're convicted of driving under the influence of drink or drugs you could serve time in prison.

"I want you to stop and think about it – is it really worth getting behind the wheel of your car if you've been drinking or have taken drugs? Think about Tony Davison – and all the victims and their families – and think about the lifelong consequences that others will face because of your actions."

Earlier this month research by Brake and Direct Line revealed almost four in 10 motorists are risking lives by driving after drinking excessively the night before, with 38 per cent admitting to driving the morning after a heavy night.

The charity said the survey highlighted a "continuing lack of understanding" about how long alcohol stays in the body. Brake's campaigns director, Julie Townsend, said drink-driving remains a "menace on our roads, devastating people's lives every day".

She added that a "shocking proportion" of drivers are unaware of the dangers of driving in the morning after drinking heavily the night before.