A POLICEMAN who has saved countless lives by setting young drivers on the right track is retiring.
Pc Dave Nixon fulfilled his dream when he joined Durham Constabulary as a cadet, abandoning his A-level studies to take up his place at its training school.
The officer today told how the decision was one of the best he ever made as he reflected on 31 years of service.
During his career, Pc Nixon patrolled rural beats before joining the force’s mounted section, where he helped monitor crowds at the region’s football matches, including Sunderland.
Even during his seven years on horseback he helped enforce the rules of the road, writing up tickets for drivers breaking the law and, on some occasions, leading a road pursuit in the saddle.
He combined his job with his passion for vehicles as he took up a post with its road policing group, where he helped launch WiseDrive 13 years ago.
It brings together a range of organisations to pass on safety messages to teenagers as they prepare to learn how to drive.
Pc Nixon, who spent 12 years as road casualty reduction officer, said: “We’ve had 12,000 young people through the event and when we did the evaluations of it, we found 0.02 of them were involved in serious road crashes.
“So we’re immensely proud of this and the great thing is everybody comes out to back it and that’s what makes it very special.”
He added: “I’ve been part of a team over these years. I’ve had a really great time and have really fond memories of Durham Constabulary.”
Pc Nixon, 49, plans to spend his early days of his retirement enjoying playing acoustic guitar and singing, a past-time he had to put to one side when he joined the police, and on 4x4 vehicles, before looking for his next challenge.
He also plans to spend more time with wife Helen, also 49, who is the operational lead for early years foundation stage children at Durham County Council.
Chief Inspector Andy Huddleston, head of the Cleveland and Durham roads policing unit, said: “Dave Nixon was instrumental in getting WiseDrive up and running and has been quite literally its driving force ever since.
“Our road casualty statistics are far lower than they used to be and that is due in no small part to Dave’s commitment to educating successive generations of young drivers.
“In addition to WiseDrive, Dave has worked tirelessly with a number of other agencies to make our roads safer and put casualty reduction high on the agenda.”
He added: “We wish him all the best and hope he enjoys a long and happy retirement.”