DRIVERS are being urged to ditch their car keys if they are following the World Cup.
With less than a week before the competition starts, it has been revealed 49 people died and almost 2,000 people were injured in drink-drive accidents in the North East during the last five years.
With the games in Brazil to be played during the evening and into the early hours, campaigners say it is inevitable people will drink.
The region’s three big football clubs, Sunderland, Newcastle and Middlesbrough, have joined Road Safety GB North East to plead with people to stay safe during the tournament.
The group is launching its Fatal Attraction drink-driving campaign today, with the support of fire officers and the Best Bar None scheme, which promotes responsible management among pubs.
Statistics show that County Durham recorded the highest number of drink-driving fatalities and injuries than anywhere else in the region between 2009 and 2013, with 19 deaths, 81 serious injures and 431 slight injuries.
In Sunderland during the same period, five people died, 37 were seriously hurt and 199 suffered minor injuries.
Sunderland captain John O’Shea added: “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 that if they are going to the pub, there is no excuse for drinking and driving.”
The campaign can be followed via www.facebook.com/RSGBNE or on Twitter @RSGB_NE