RESPONSE officers in Dorset will be trained to conduct roadside drink and drug screenings in a bid to reduce road deaths in the county.

Drink and drug driving is responsible for a quarter of road deaths this year in Dorset, with the total number of fatalities up since last year.

As Brake's Road Safety Week gets under way, Dorset's Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill also said a notable proportion of deaths had also involved elderly motorists.

Mr Underhill said despite education and enforcement, the reality is that "a proportion of our fatalities are caused by poor, split-second judgement calls, which partnership activity is powerless to change."

And he said despite a lack of full data for 2017, the two key issues affecting Dorset involved educating and training older drivers.

The force have launched the Older Drivers Forum this year, which helps elderly people to decide if they should continue driving.

"What is also striking is the number of elderly pedestrians who have lost their lives this year, which may indicate further lessons to be learned", Mr Underhill added.

"A second significant trend relates to drink and drug driving.

"Over a quarter of road fatalities so far this year have involved motorists impaired by alcohol, drugs or both.

"In the run up to the festive season, I hope that this will serve as a timely reminder to all road users.

"Making the selfish and unnecessary choice to drive while under the influence has the potential to devastate families."

Mr Underhill is lobbying the Government to lower the drink drive limit to that of other European countries.

"For a small force, Dorset Police is punching well above its weight. All officers and special constables working in the traffic and No Excuse teams are equipped to conduct roadside screenings using mobile testing equipment.

"Around half of the tests conducted deliver positive results, underlining Dorset Police’s proactive and targeted approach to drug driving. This is a record to be proud of."

More response officers in Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth are due to be trained over the next few months.

And he fully endorses Government plans to increase the sentences for people who cause death by careless driving while on drink or drugs.

"Dangerous drivers must face the consequences of their actions; for too long, victims’ families have had their grief compounded by lenient sentencing."