FOOTBALL rivals have come together to urge drivers in South Tyneside not to be World Cup losers.
The month-long tournament gets under way next Thursday in Brazil, and most of its matches kick off at what is night-time here.
Fans are expected to flock to pubs to watch games, but they are being warned to leave their car keys at home.
Newcastle United and Sunderland players have joined forces to support Road Safety GB North East’s campaign to urge people to stay safe during the tournament.
Black Cats captain John O’Shea said: “People will be going out to cheer on their country, but they should remember if they are going to the pub that there is no excuse for drinking and driving.”
magpies defender Mike Williamson added: “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 that nothing is more important than a human life.”
Road Safety GB North East is launching its Fatal Attraction drink-driving campaign on Monday amid fears that the World Cup could spark a rise in drink-driving.
Campaign chairman Paul Watson said: “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 drive to work or take the kids on the school run.”
England play their first game of the contest, against Italy, next Saturday at 11pm, and their other group games start at 8pm and 5pm.
Figures revealed 49 people died and almost 2,000 were injured in drink drive accidents in the North East during the last five years.
In that period, there was one fatal accident of that kind in South Tyneside, and nine serious, which are among the lowest figures in the region.
Casualties from collisions involving a drink driver only accounted for five per cent of the North East’s total casualty numbers, but made up eight per cent of serious injuries and 15 per cent of fatalities between 2009 and 2013.
In the last five years in the North East, the figures show drivers and riders aged between 17 and 34 accounted for 65 per cent of all drink drivers.
Males accounted for 82 per cent of all drink drivers, while car drivers were the most likely culprits.
Two thirds of drink-drive casualties resulted from collisions that occurred between 6pm and 5am.
Of the total casualties, 39 per cent of them were the drivers or riders themselves, and they made up 54 per cent of the serious and fatal injuries.