In the five years between 2012 and 2016, 38 people were killed on North East roads due to a suspected drink/drug driver, 268 were seriously injured, and a further 1,344 were slightly injured. In 2015 alone, a particularly bad year, 80 people were killed or seriously injured.
Statistics show that men are much more likely to be involved in a drink/drug drive collision, than women, and the most at-risk group are those aged between 17 and 34.
Drivers involved in collisions whilst impaired by alcohol are also likely to be much closer to home than those drivers involved in collisions whilst not over the limit.
Paul Watson, Chairman of RSGB NE, said: “Nobody can imagine the pain that is caused when a loved one loses their life in a road accident, particularly when that collision has happened due to a drink or drug driver. It could so easily have been prevented.
“I don’t believe anyone goes out with the intention to cause a fatal collision, but it could easily happen if you are under the influence.
“We want everyone to have a good time this Christmas, but either organise transport home, or make the decision to be the designated driver. It’s so easy to get carried away, so our advice is to stay off alcohol altogether if you plan to drive.”
Chief Inspector Graham Milne, from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “Many drivers who would not consider driving after a night in the pub fail to recognise the influence of alcohol on their body the next day, or simply choose to ignore its effects. Drivers need to take responsibility and use alternative means of transport after a heavy night drinking.
“Our officers have to pick up the pieces of families torn apart when a loved one is lost as a result of driving whilst impaired, or at the hands of somebody who is – and it is unacceptable to commit this offence, at any time of the year.
“Throughout December our officers will be carrying out random stop checks over the two counties. We will also be acting on intelligence and members of the public are encouraged to report drink or drug drivers on the anonymous Crimestoppers telephone number 0800 555 111.”
Julie Wilson, Student Services Manager at Stockton Riverside College, said: “This is such an important message for all young people. As a new or even as an experienced driver, it is all too easy to think that something like this will never happen to you, but if and when it does it can be devastating, not just for those directly involved, but all those left to live with the consequences.
“As a college, many of our students fall into the highest risk age group which is why we work closely with road safety campaigns and emergency services across the region throughout the year to help raise awareness.”
Casualties across the North East resulting from collisions involving drink and drug drivers from 2012 to 2016, inclusive: