MORE than 60 drivers believed to have been under the influence of drink or drugs have been arrested in the first 12 days of a dedicated crackdown.

Last month, Northumbria Police pledged their support of an operation led by Road Safety GB North East aimed at promoting road safety throughout the World Cup and festive period.

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Instances of drink and drug driving typically increase during major sporting tournaments and in the lead-up to Christmas, raising the likelihood of road casualties and deaths.

Since starting on November 20, the Force's Motor Patrols Department increased patrols across many of Northumbria's busiest roads and stopped drivers believed to be impaired by alcohol or drugs.

In the operation's first 12 days, more than 60 were stopped and detained. Each face possible criminal proceedings over the coming weeks.

During October and November this year, more than 200 motorists were convicted at court after being found to be driving under the influence of drink or drugs in Northumbria's Force area.

Those prosecutions led to motorists being hit with road bans of more than 400 years combined.

Sergeant Glen Robson, of Northumbria Police's Operation Dragoon team, said: "We know that people tend to socialise and drink more at this time of year, especially with a World Cup on, but our message is clear – do not put your life and the lives of others in danger.

"When you have been drinking or taken drugs, your reaction time slows and it's more difficult to drive in a safe manner. We have seen the devastating and irreversible consequences that this can have, with one bad decision potentially tearing families apart.

"It's crucial that everyone sits up and takes note. By getting behind the wheel whilst under the influence, you risk ruining more than one life forever.

"Since the start of this operation, in just 12 days, we have stopped and arrested more than 60 people on suspicion of driving whilst impaired so it's imperative that we continue to spread this message loud and clear, far and wide.

"We all have a responsibility to drive in a safe and respectful manner, in order to protect all road users and the wider community. That's why, as the figures show, we are taking – and will continue to take – robust action against anybody found to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

"It's also important to remember that you may still be affected the next day and could lose your licence if you drive and are still over the legal limit. If you're in any doubt, don't get behind the wheel."

Figures released by Road Safety GB NE showed between 2017 and 2021, a total of 1,082 people were injured in collisions involving suspected drink or drug-impaired drivers in the North East.

Of these, 274 were seriously injured and 27 killed – accounting for 13 per cent of all fatalities on roads during this period.

While the total number of road casualties in the region has reduced over five years from 237 in 2017 to 198 in 2021, the number killed or seriously injured has remained around the same, with 56 in 2021 compared to 57 in 2017.

This is despite the pandemic impacting the number of vehicles on the road during 2020 and 2021.