Hartlepool United are backing World Cup drink-drive campaign

Road Safety GB North East Chairman Paul Watson.
Road Safety GB North East Chairman Paul Watson.

Hartlepool United are backing a campaign to keep the roads safe during this summer’s World Cup.

The club has joined Road Safety GB North East (RSGB NE) in urging people to leave their car keys at home before going out drinking during the tournament, which kicks off in Russia next week.

Don’t drink at all if you’re driving. Do not drive under the influence; the impact can be devastating.

Paul Watson

RSGB NE is also being joined by police and fire crews from across the region, as well as Hartlepool United, Newcastle and Middlesbrough football clubs, as it aims to reduce alcohol and drug-related road casualty figures during the World Cup, when alcohol consumption is expected to sharply rise.

The move comes as new figures show drink and drugs were involved in 57 injury road accidents in Hartlepool between the end of 2013 and start of this year.

As part of the drink drive message, the road safety group has produced a range of World Cup materials for use during the football tournament, including a Russia 2018 wall chart, sweepstake, and score predictor, which can be downloaded.

Between 2013 and 2017, 40 people were killed on the region’s roads due to a suspected drink/drug driver, 320 were seriously injured, and a further 1,544 were slightly injured.

During the Euro 2016 football fixtures, there was an increase in drink and drug driving injuries on the day of, and the day following, all of England’s football fixtures, with incidents rising from 8% of total collisions to 19%.

And, while drink and drug drive casualties have fallen by 7% over the five years from 369 in 2013 to 345 in 2017, the number of people killed or seriously injured has increased sharply by 40%, from 58 in 2013 to 81 in 2017.

RSGB NE chairman Paul Watson said: “We are not trying to dampen the fun and spirits of the World Cup; far from it. We want people to go out and have a great time, and hopefully England will do us proud, too.

“However, we do want people to plan ahead. Either be the designated driver and stay on soft drinks or arrange a lift from a friend, book a taxi or use public transport. Do not drive under the influence; the impact can be devastating.”