A summer crack-down on drink and drug driving has seen Northumbria Police make 145 arrests and breath-test more than 700 motorists across the region.

During the World Cup, between June 14 and July 15, increased roadside checks and extra patrols resulted in 744 motorists being breathalysed by officers from Northumbria Police’s Motor Patrols and the Operation Dragoon team.

Extra officers equipped with breathalysers and drug testing kits were deployed and roadside stations were set up.

As a result, 629 men and 115 women were breath-tested, with 504 of them over the age of 25.

The strict measures were introduced after an estimated 9,050 people were killed or injured in accidents in the UK in 2016 when at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit, representing a statistically significant rise from 8,470 in 2015 and the highest number since 2012.

Research by insurance company Direct Line has revealed that almost half of UK adults have accepted a lift from someone they knew or suspected of being drunk.

Nearly 22 million people have got in a car with someone too drunk to drive, and the percentage of adults from the North-East was recorded at 43 per cent, a total of over 900,000 people.

Sergeant Matt Sykes, of Operation Dragoon, urged road users not to get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“When you are under the influence, you are more likely to cause a collision which could have devastating consequences for all those involved – you are putting lives at risk.

“Not only will you face arrest, a driving ban, a fine and a potential prison sentence, but you could end up causing serious injury and taking the life of another road user,” Sgt Sykes said.

“If you are going out, make special arrangements to get home.

“Road traffic collisions tear families apart and people need to be aware of the risks involved in driving while over the limit.”

Operation Dragoon was launched in March 2013 in response to two tragic fatal collisions, and focuses on enforcement, education and engagement.

Officers actively targeted known drink and drug offenders in the region and are continuing to warn motorists of the risks involved in driving after taking drugs or drinking alcohol.

The activity was part of the National Police Chief Council’s national campaign to target drink and drug drivers.

Durham Police have gone one step further and are trialling a scheme where alcohol ‘interlocks’ are fitted in vehicles.

The technology immobilises vehicles when drivers are over the drink drive limit.

Such devices are already commonplace in the United States and Denmark, and are now being offered to offenders on a voluntary basis here.

The devices make drivers take a breath test before setting off and again at random points during a journey. Data is then sent to officers in real-time using mobile phone technology.

However, a former transport minister suggested that the lack of public transport in rural areas was worsening the drink-drive epidemic.

And road safety charity Brake is calling for more affordable public transport as well as a review of rural speed limits and the introduction of Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA) technology – which alerts drivers to the speed limit of roads they are driving on.

Brake also called for practising on rural roads to be made a compulsory part of driving lessons.

In 2015, 120 young drivers died on UK roads, with 80 per cent of crashes taking place in rural locations.

“High speeds, sharp bends, narrow lanes, risky overtaking and the presence of vulnerable road users, like cyclists, make rural roads the most dangerous by far,” said Jason Wakeford from Brake.

The charity believes a ‘graduated’ licensing system, which would also include a zero drink-drive limit for those who are newly qualified, would allow drivers to build up more skills and experience.

Research published by the AA charitable trust showed that driving was now seen as a bigger threat to teenagers’ safety than gun and knife crime.

When asked ‘What do you think is the greatest risk to the safety of teenagers?’, 17 per cent of people answered ‘driving’ compared to just 11 per cent ten years ago.

The number of people who saw gun and knife crime as the biggest threat fell from 25 per cent ten years ago to just 16 per cent today.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the legal alcohol limit for drivers is 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.

And the consequences if you’re convicted aren’t pretty. You could face a minimum 12 month driving ban, a criminal record, a hefty fine or up to six months in prison.