Stars from the region’s top football clubs have urged people to leave their cars behind if they are watching World Cup matches at the pub.
With less than a week to go before the tournament in Brazil, a campaign has been launched to remind people about the dangers of drink driving.
The road safety group is launching its Fatal Attraction drink driving campaign in Millennium Place in Durham city on Monday with the support of fire officers and the Best Bar None Accredited Premises organisation, which promotes responsible management among pub licensees.
The campaign has issued statistics showing that 49 people were killed and 311 seriously injured in the North East as a result of drink driving between 2009 and 2013.
Paul Watson, chairman of Road Safety GB North East, 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.”
Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson has backed the campaign, saying: “I’m delighted, on behalf of Newcaste United, to support Road Safety GB North East in its World Cup campaign. It’s imperative people not only leave their car keys at home, but also take into account early morning journeys.
“You can still enjoy yourself, especially if England are doing well. Enjoy the football, but remember, nothing is more important than a human life.”
Sunderland captain John O’Shea said: “The World Cup is a huge event that so many people are looking forward to this summer. People will be going out to cheer on their country and should remember if they are going to the pub that there is no excuse for drinking and driving.”
Research has shown that, in the North East, motorists aged between 17 and 34 account for two-thirds of drink drivers while men made up 82%.