'Give drink-drug driving the boot' during World Cup action, North East charity warns

A breathalyser for drink driving stories.
Credit: PA
County Durham topped the list of drink-drug drive casualties by local authority area in the last five years Credit: PA Images

Football fans across the region have been urged to give 'drink and drug-driving the boot' during World Cup action.

Research by Road Safety GB North East found there was an increase in drink and drug driving injuries in the region both on the day of and the day after England’s matches, with casualties rising from 10% to as much as 20% of all road injuries.  

England are gearing up to take on France tomorrow (Saturday 10 Dec) in the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Qatar.

In the five-year period between 2017 and 2021, there were 1,082 people injured in collisions that involved a suspected drink or drug-impaired driver in the North East.

  • 781 were slightly injured

  • 274 were seriously injured

  • 27 were killed

  • They accounted for 13% of all fatalities on the roads during this period

County Durham topped the list of drink-drug drive casualties by local authority area from 2017-2021, followed by Northumberland and Stockton.

Cleveland Police’s Roads Policing Operations Sergeant Mark Kewley said: “While we hope everyone enjoys the tournament, we want to remind people about the dangers of driving under the influence.

"There are also risks around driving the next morning, as drink and drugs can remain in the system for extended periods of time.

"Remember, while you may feel fit to drive, you may not be."

Inspector Kevin Salter, from Durham Road and Armed Policing Unit, said those who choose to drink and drive risked killing themselves or someone else, which would ultimately lead to prison.

He added: "As a minimum when caught, offenders risk losing their licence, and potentially their livelihood as a result.

"We’re all looking forward to the match, but I would encourage anyone going out to celebrate to arrange their transport home beforehand. Our message is simple, don’t drink and drive."

The number of drink and drug drive casualties usually increases over the Christmas period, too, with numbers becoming particularly high from 23 December through to New Years’ Day.

During this period, 23% of all injuries involve a drink or drug-impaired driver, and this increases to 30% for those killed or seriously injured.

And Andrew Bright, Road Safety Co-ordinator for Cleveland Fire Brigade, urged people to do the right thing and to speak up if friends and family planned to drive after drink or drugs.

He said: "Behind these stark injury statistics are the many human stories of lives devastated by someone making the wrong choice and getting behind the wheel when impaired.

"Don’t let your mates drive after drink or drugs. Often, its innocent passengers and other road-users that are the victims with the driver walking away with a lifetime of regret."

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