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Mother of Lauren Danks, 22, who was killed by drink-driver on A11 at Red Lodge, backs police campaign urging drivers not to drink alcohol or take drugs before getting behind the wheel



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The mother of a young woman who was killed in a crash in Suffolk has backed a police campaign urging drivers not to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or taking drugs.

Today marks the start of a month-long drink and drug driving campaign by police forces across the country, and Claire Danks is telling her story to warn others of the potential consequences of consuming alcohol or drugs before driving.

That's because back in November 2016, her daughter Lauren Danks, 22, was killed on her way home from work by a drunk motorist who was driving at over 100mph on the A11 at Red Lodge.

Lauren Danks with mum Claire. Picture: Cambridgeshire Constabulary
Lauren Danks with mum Claire. Picture: Cambridgeshire Constabulary

Nelson Curtis, of High Street, Lakenheath, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, failing to stop after a road traffic collision and failing to report a road traffic collision when he appeared at Ipswich Crown Court in June 2017.

The court heard that Curtis had consumed a large amount of alcohol before driving his car at 134mph on the A11.

He was jailed for seven years and banned from driving for eight and a half years.

Lauren Danks died at the age of 22 in a crash on the A11 at Red Lodge
Lauren Danks died at the age of 22 in a crash on the A11 at Red Lodge

Lauren's mother Claire Danks, of Soham, is now an ambassador for the Roads Victims Trust – a charity that supports victims of serious crashes across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire.

Mrs Danks said what happened the night of the crash 'haunts' her every day.

She said: "Being told our daughter was dead was like dropping a bomb and blowing our lives into pieces. The pain is unimaginable and there is nothing that will fix it.

“We think about Lauren every day and have many wonderful memories. But there are so many more we won’t get to have.

Lauren Danks with her family. Picture: Cambridgeshire Constabulary
Lauren Danks with her family. Picture: Cambridgeshire Constabulary

"We won’t see her get married, she will never have children. We don’t even know what she would look like now.

“What happened that night haunts us every day. Please don’t be the cause of another family’s tragedy. Please don’t drink and drive.”

Police forces in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire have today launched their month-long Christmas drink and drug driving campaigns – alongside other forces throughout the country, aimed at highlighting the dangers of getting behind the wheel while under the influence.

In Suffolk, police will be carrying out roadside checks throughout the day and night, as well as intelligence-led enforcement activity.

Temporary Chief Inspector Jon Chapman, Head of the Joint Roads and Armed Policing Team, said: "This has been a very difficult and challenging year for everyone, with little opportunity to get together with loved ones or celebrate special occasions.

"With that in mind, we are more than aware that many people will be desperate for some respite over the Christmas period and the chance to share a drink with friends and family – wherever the Covid-19 regulations allow.

"We want people to be able to enjoy themselves, but to do so sensibly and without risking the lives of others. There is no room for people to think that just because it’s Christmas, or that 2020 has been a year to forget, that getting behind the wheel of a vehicle under the influence of drink or drugs is any more acceptable than it would usually be.

In Suffolk, police will be carrying out roadside checks throughout the day and night, as well as intelligence-led enforcement activity
In Suffolk, police will be carrying out roadside checks throughout the day and night, as well as intelligence-led enforcement activity

"Our message is consistent – it is not acceptable any year, or at any time of the year – drink and drug driving kills and we urge friends and relatives not to tolerate or condone their loved ones taking this unnecessary risk.

"It is also worth remembering that every year we often catch people driving over the limit the morning after a night of drinking. You need time for the effects of alcohol to wear off, so the advice to anyone who has to drive early the next morning is not to drink at all.

"Please don’t gamble with peoples’ lives for the sake of a drink and do not let anyone you know do so either – the same applies if you know someone has used drugs. The chances of being caught, put in a police cell and losing your driving licence and your job is high, as is the risk of destroying a life and causing death or serious injury – it is just not worth it.”

Police say they aim to target 'irresponsible and dangerous' drivers and protect other road users from the harm caused by those drink or drug driving.

Driving while under the influence of drink or drugs is one of the 'Fatal Four' offences, which makes it more likely for drivers to be involved in a serious or fatal collision.

During last year's campaign in Suffolk, 67 drivers of the 562 breath-tested provided positive readings, while of the 82 drivers tested for drugs, 76 failed.

Meanwhile, 10 people failed to provide a specimen and 17 people were arrested for being unfit to drive through drink and drugs.

Police have said they want to remind people celebrating the festive season at home, that no matter what the setting, drink driving will not be tolerated and those who get behind the wheel and put themselves and others at risk will face 'the full force of the law'.

Anyone who thinks they have spotted someone who might be driving while under the influence of drink or drugs are encouraged to provide information to help officers identify who they are, take appropriate action and prevent collisions.

Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore, said: "This has been a difficult year for everyone and I can’t believe that anyone would consider making matters even worse and risk ending up behind bars for Christmas. Sadly, there will be some road users who despite all the warnings, will be found driving with excess alcohol or drugs in their system.

"It amazes me that despite the obvious dangers, too many motorists still take to the road under the influence of alcohol or drugs. I hope all drivers will heed the warning and consider, not only the danger they put themselves and other road-users in, but also the implications if they get caught. It really is not worth it.

Tim Passmore, Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk
Tim Passmore, Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk

"All drivers need to understand that drink/drug driving risks lives and the lives of others. It is grossly irresponsible and selfish and I hope this year we will finally see a change in attitude as drivers appreciate they don’t want to make 2020 any worse than it already is.”

Anyone with information about suspected drink or drug driving should contact Suffolk Police, by either emailing their local Safer Neighbourhood Team or by calling 101. Dial 999 if it is an emergency or you believe a crime is in progress.

Alternatively, contact the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

To get the latest updates in ongoing cases, police appeals and criminals put behind bars, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk