Alcohol has been identified as a major factor in the hundreds of road accidents involving adult pedestrians on north east roads - with figures rising 12 percent last year.
Education group Road Safety GB North East is launching the Check Out Before You Step Out campaign to help safeguard pedestrians as the dark nights begin, when the number of accidents typically rises.
Of the 3,328 adults involved in pedestrian accidents across the region during the last five years, almost half of them involved people aged between 16 and 35, while 78 were fatal and 756 resulted in serious injury. Adults also accounted for almost nine out of ten of the total pedestrian fatalities on the region’s roads.
In Northumberland 84 people were killed or seriously injured on the roads, with a further 235 slightly injured.
A large number of accidents occur during the winter months and during the hours of darkness, particularly over Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights when young people are out drinking.
Alan Kennedy, road safety manager at Durham County Council and chairman of Road Safety GB, said alcohol and failing to pay attention were two of the major contributing factors, with young people aged between 16 and 24 accounting for a third of the victims.
“Every year we see pedestrians needlessly injured and tragically killed on our roads and these deaths and injuries could be avoided with just a bit more care,” said Alan.
“Young adults who are out after dark, particularly those that are drinking, are most at risk, so we’re urging them to look after themselves and to keep their friends and family safe, too.
“Drivers must also take responsibility and pay particular attention to pedestrians. People are not always easy to see at night or at times of poor weather, so we would appeal to drivers to take extra care and to watch their speed.
“Pedestrians have no protection, so a car travelling just a few miles over the speed limit can have a catastrophic effect.”
He added: “Our message to everyone this winter is to stay alert and stay alive.”
The campaign will use media publicity and social media to raise awareness among pedestrians and drivers through Facebook www.facebook.com/checkoutstepout and Twitter @CheckOutStepOut and is being specifically targeted at colleges, universities and licensed premises.
Each of the region’s 12 local authority road safety officers will also be promoting the campaign in their towns and cities and will be asking businesses and colleges to display posters and distribute flyers.
To find out more about Road Safety GB North East and the pedestrian campaign, go to http://www.roadsafetygb.org.uk/regions/r3.html