Pubs targeted as police use Bluetooth texts to issue drink-drive warning

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POLICE are to use Bluetooth mobile phone technology to warn revellers not to drink and drive as part of a new campaign.

For the first time, people in drinking "hot-spots" in Edinburgh will be targeted with hard-hitting texts.

Traffic officers will send the texts to every Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone within a 50-metre radius – directing the messages at those late-night revellers most likely to drink and drive.

Lothian and Borders Police is the first force in Scotland to use Bluetooth technology to drive home the message to drivers that getting behind the wheel while under the influence could have fatal consequences.

Officers from the road policing unit will send the messages from a host of busy areas during the campaign, which will run until 4 January.

Those areas include Ocean Terminal, Rose Street and near Picardy Place – one of the busiest traffic hot-spots in the country. The publicity campaign will also result in anti-drink-drive messages being posted on the back of 40 buses, as well as on half a million parking vouchers.

Posters warning motorists to "Curb the Danger" will also be distributed to licensed premises across Lothian and the Borders.

Inspector Colin Shillito said the text messages would be aimed at people between 17 and 25 – the age group most likely to be involved in road accidents.

Last year, a survey showed that a fifth of newly qualified teenage drivers admitted getting behind the wheel while drunk, although police believe drink-driving is as big a problem among older motorists.

The innovative campaign has been launched amid concern that drink-driving is on the increase – and that there may be less public shame attached to the offence.

Mr Shillito told The Scotsman: "Nationally, the figures have crept up again, although within the force, from 2005, there has been a slight decrease in the numbers we are detecting.

"Only yesterday, two officers in East Lothian arrested a guy just under twice over the limit. That was at 8:30am.

"People seem to think they can take a chance, particularly with morning-after driving."

He urged people to remember the dangers of getting behind the wheel while under the influence of drink or drugs, and stressed that people should make arrangements to get home safely after festive nights out.

"This is the first time Lothian and Borders Police has used Bluetooth technology to communicate the drink-drive message and we are hoping that we will reach the 17- to 25-year-old age group."

Mr Shillito said the messages would not be targeted at motorists, but acknowledged many passing drivers would also receive the texts, which contain three pages of words and images, and include the message: "Who's taking you home tonight? Bus, taxi, police, paramedic?"

The move is backed by the drinks company Diageo.

However, Margaret Decker, from the Scottish Campaign Against Irresponsible Driving, said she was concerned that motorists might be distracted by the texts.

"Anything you do in a car other than driving is an accident waiting to happen," she said. "I don't see the logic in this at all."

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