Martyn Bell, the team manager for Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship team Geoff Steel Racing has joined forces with his local Police Force, Humberside Police, to help launch the drive-drive awareness campaign for the Christmas period after he was asked to take part in an event to show the effects driving after consuming alcohol.
Barrow-upon-Humber based Bell, who competed in more than 100 races in the BTCC – before making his name in the BTCC, he secured a number of Championships in the Kunho BMW Series and since stepping down from race action in 2010, he is now the team manager of Lincolnshire based Geoff Steel Racing.
The event, which was organised with the Safer Roads Partnership, BRAKE and Crimestoppers, saw Bell drive towards a specially constructed polystyrene wall, and he had a series of lights which indicated which way he had go to avoid the wall – or stopping the car via an emergency stop.
Bell completed a series of runs without any issues and before he got back in the car, the former BTCC racer was then given some alcohol.
Despite the small amount of alcohol consumed, Bell was then unable to avoid the wall when he was asked to complete an emergency stop; this in turn showed the impact that the smallest amount 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 Tata Steelworks in Scunthorpe held the successful event and the location will now form a key element of Humberside Police’s annual drive to reduce the amount of drivers who drive 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.”
To anonymously report somebody driving under the influence of alcohol, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.