None for the road: Pictured cheering on England near the Transporter Bridge are pupils from Tilery School with Road Safety Officer and Stockton Council’s principal engineer Anthony Wilton and members from Cleveland Police and Cleveland Fire Brigade.

People across the North East are being urged to kick drink and drug driving out of the Euros as the football tournament prepares to get underway this week.

Pupils from Tilery Primary School in Stockton, and St Benet’s Catholic Primary School and Park View School, both in Chester-le-Street, have joined Road Safety GB North East (RSGB NE) and the emergency services to urge people not to get behind the wheel after drink or drugs. People are also reminded they may still be over the limit the next morning.

Between 2019 and 2023, there were 1,240 people injured in the North East in collisions involving a suspected drink/drug driver. Some 381 of those people were seriously injured and 37 were killed.

As the tournament prepares to kick off on Friday, Peter Slater, Chair of RSGB NE, said: “While there has been a reduction in the total amount of people injured in drink and drug driving collisions across the region, the number of people killed or seriously injured remains high. This loss of life and injury could have been so easily prevented.

“We know people are looking forward to the Euros, but we want to remind people to be sensible. If you know you’re going to be drinking, plan your transport home beforehand. Consider being the designated driver and sticking to soft drinks.”

Don’t drive impaired: Pictured cheering on England at the Angel of the North are RSGB NE Chair Peter Slater (back left), students from Park View School and pupils from St Benet’s Catholic Primary School with members from Northumbria Police and Tyne and Wear Fire & Rescue Service.

Drink and drug driving typically increases during major sporting tournaments as people gather to watch the games over drinks.

During the World Cup in 2022, there was an increase in drink and drug driving injuries in the region on the day of and the day following England’s matches. On these days, drink/drug driving injuries increased from 12% to 16% of all injuries, while those resulting in serious injury rose from 15% to 20%.

It takes roughly one hour for one unit of alcohol to leave your body, but it could take longer depending on your gender, body type, size, and whether you have consumed food or medication. A large glass of wine or a strong pint of beer contains three units, which will take at least three hours to leave your body.

Tilery Primary School pupil Asher said: “The Euros are all about teamwork and at Tilery we are a team. Let’s work together to keep everyone safe and happy. Don’t use alcohol or drugs when you’re going to be driving. Your buzz isn’t more important than our safety, and just one bad decision could alter someone’s life forever.”

Younger people are more likely to be involved and injured in collisions where drink and drug drivers are a feature. Around 58% of drink/drug drivers and 52% of casualties are aged between 17 and 34.

Catherine Young, headteacher at St Benet’s Catholic Primary School, said: “We’re all very excited for the Euros 2024 and hope England make it to the final again! As a school, we teach children all about staying safe and therefore we fully support the road safety campaign. We hope that people enjoy the football but keep away from drinking and driving.”

Cleveland Police Roads Policing Inspector Stephen Clyburn said: “We want everyone to be able to enjoy the tournament as ever, but please be responsible and remember that driving whilst intoxicated does cost lives.”

Chief Inspector Alan Pitchford, of Northumbria Police, said: “Our message to fans is a simple one – don’t get behind the wheel when you’ve been drinking or using drugs. We all have a responsibility to ensure other road users are safe from harm – so we would urge everyone to be sensible and think ahead.”

Terry Griffin, Safety Education Manager for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The issue of drink and drug driving is very serious. Please drive safely and within the legal parameters and respect your fellow drivers on the road.”

Andrew Bright, Road Safety Co-ordinator at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “Alcohol or drugs are not a happy mix when driving and our local and regional statistics are a stark confirmation of it. Make it ‘none for the road’, enjoy the tournament and keep our roads safe.”

And Inspector Mick Todd, of Durham Constabulary, said: “Stay sober, get a taxi, arrange a lift, stay at a friend’s house – there are several choices, but drink or drug driving is never one of them. The decision to drive when you’re over the limit takes just a split second, but the consequences could last a lifetime.”

Below is a breakdown of drink/drug driving casualties by local authority area from 2019-2023. The figures in County Durham and Northumberland are expected to be higher as those counties are bigger.

Drink/drug driving casualties by local authority area from 2019-2023

Local Authority Fatal Serious Slight Total
County Durham 11 92 159 262
Darlington 1 14 20 35
Gateshead 1 18 43 62
Hartlepool 2 28 82 112
Middlesbrough 2 31 55 88
Newcastle upon Tyne 2 19 49 70
North Tyneside 3 11 61 75
Northumberland 5 57 105 167
Redcar and Cleveland 3 26 45 74
South Tyneside 0 8 40 48
Stockton-on-Tees 3 41 101 145
Sunderland 4 36 62 102
Total 37 381 822 1,240