MOTORISTS are being reminded of the dangers of drink driving with figures revealing 47 people have been injured in alcohol fuelled accidents on the road in the last five years.
With less than a week to go before the World Cup, road safety campaigners are urging drivers to leave their car keys behind when going out drinking while the football is on.
Police, fire officers and three of the region’s biggest football clubs have backed Road Safety GB North East’s Fatal Attraction campaign, warning drivers against getting behind the wheel after a drink on a night or the next morning.
Frightening figures reveal two people have been killed and five left with serious injuries after being involved in collisions involving intoxicated drivers on the streets of Hartlepool between 2009 and 2013.
And a further 40 people have suffered minor injuries in accidents on the roads caused by drink drivers.
In total 49 drivers have been killed and more than 2,000 injured on the roads across the North East in accidents involving drink drivers.
Paul Watson, chairman of Road Safety GB North East and road safety officer in Durham and Hartlepool, said: “I think we are all excited about the start of the World Cup and the party atmosphere that it brings, but we just want to remind people about the potential consequences as well.
“It’s normal for people to celebrate and have a few drinks and we don’t want to stop that. However, they need to leave their car keys at home and either walk or take public transport.
“This World Cup is different in that all the games will be shown here at night, so people need to think about how much they are drinking and what their plans are the next morning.
“People could easily be over the limit when they have to drive to work or take the kids on the school run.
“We want people to remember this World Cup for all of the right reasons and not because of the consequences of drink driving.
“It could cost a life.”
The campaign has been backed by Sunderland, Newcastle United and Middlesbrough whose assistant manager Craig Hignett, formerly assistant at Hartlepool United, said: “Everyone is looking forward to the tournament and I’m sure the atmosphere will be terrific. Just don’t get behind the wheel of a car if you have been drinking.
“Alcohol can stay in the body for hours, so it’s important not to risk driving the morning after when you may still be over the limit.”
For more information about Road Safety GB North East and the campaign go to http://www.roadsafetygb.org.uk/regions/r3.html.