Former British Touring Car Championship racer Martyn Bell has joined forces with Humberside Police to help launch it's Christmas drink-driving awareness campaign, having been asked to take part in an event to show the effects of alcohol behind the wheel.
Bell, who returned to the paddock this season as team manager with Geoff Steel Racing, attended a launch event for the media where he was asked to drive a car towards a specially constructed polystyrene wall, with a series of lights indicating whether he should avoid the wall by going to the right or left, or should bring the car to a halt by executing an emergency stop.
Having completed a series of runs behind the wheel without any issue, Bell was then given alcohol before getting back in the car.
Despite the low amount of alcohol consumed, he was then unable to avoid hitting the wall when asked to carry out an emergency stop; showing the impact that the even the smallest amounts of alcohol can have on driving ability and reaction times.
“When I first got into the car, it was easy to stop before the wall with room to spare,” he said. “However, even though I only drank a small amount of alcohol, I then hit the wall when I was asked to do it again. I didn't feel any different, but the alcohol clearly had an effect on my mind. I thought I was braking at the same place as I had done previously, but I actually hit the brakes slightly later - and that was too late to avoid the wall.
“It showed that even a small amount of alcohol does have an impact; you don't have to actually feel drunk before your reactions are affected. The whole aim of the day was to show why you shouldn't drink-drive and if me taking part can save even just one life, it will have been more than worthwhile.
“What it showed is that if you are going out for a drink, even just one, then leave the car behind.”
The successful event held at the Tata Steelworks in Scunthorpe will now form a key element of Humberside Police's annual drive to reduce the number of people who get behind the wheel of a car when under the influence of alcohol.
"The event was devised not only to mark the launch of the Humberside Police Drink and Drug Driving Campaign which will run up to and over the festive season, but also to graphically demonstrate the impact that even a small quantity of alcohol can have on your ability to simply drive,” a spokesman for Humberside Police said.
"As an added bonus this year, we were able to work with Martyn in order to get our message across to motorists of all ages and it's to be hoped that all who were at the launch got the message loud and clear that if small amounts of alcohol can impair a former championship winning racing driver, what could happen to your average motorist.
"Our message is clear. If you intend to have a drink, simply don't drive."