Road Safety GB North East has today (30 Nov) launched a seasonal drink and drug drive campaign which encourages festive partygoers to leave the car keys at home.
The campaign is supported by police forces in the area, who are warning that patrols are being stepped up, and a recently bereaved mother whose teenage son died as a passenger in a car crash following a night out with friends.
In the five years between 2011 and 2015, 46 people were killed on roads in north east England due to a suspected drink/drug driver. 297 were seriously injured, and a further 1,567 were slightly injured. In 2015, 80 people were killed or seriously injured – the highest number for six years.
The campaign features Rachel Docherty (pictured), the mother of 17-year-old James Docherty, who who died in July this year when the car he was a passenger in clipped the curb and flipped, before landing on its roof.
James, and his friend who was driving, were travelling back to Gateshead after a night out in Newcastle.
The driver was jailed for six years after pleading guilty to causing the death of James by dangerous driving while disqualified, causing death by driving while uninsured, driving with excess alcohol and being over the limit for drugs.
The campaign includes CCTV footage showing the car being driven erratically and at speed on the lead up to the crash.
Rachel Docherty said: “If you are thinking of drinking or taking drugs and then getting behind the wheel of a car – think again. You may have done it before and been fine, but it only takes once.
“No mother should have to bury their child. James should have turned 18 in September, but instead of celebrating we visited the cemetery. It’s been devastating.”
Paul Watson, chairman of Road Safety GB North East, said: “It’s very easy to go out with the intention of only having one drink, but during the Christmas festivities there is a tendency to get carried away and that’s where accidents happen.
“We don’t want to stop people having a good time – we just want people to be safe. James’ story is tragic – his life lost and so many other lives ruined simply because one person thought he was a great driver, even when under the influence. He was proved very wrong. We hope people make better decisions than he did that night.”
The campaign also reminds motorists that they can still be over the limit the next morning, explaining that it takes an average of one hour for a unit of alcohol to pass through the body.
Want to know more about drink driving and road safety?
Online library of research and reports etc – visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre
Key facts and summaries of research reports – visit the Road Safety Observatory