Grieving mother backs campaign against drink driving

James Docherty with his mum Rachael Docherty.
James Docherty with his mum Rachael Docherty.

Grieving mother Rachael Docherty has given her backing to a regional campaign to raise awareness of the dangers surrounding drink driving. 

The mother-of-five is giving her full support to the Road Safety GB North East’s (RSGB NE) seasonal campaign.

Its aim is to reduce road casualty incidents caused by the influence of drugs or drink. The road safety group is urging people to leave their car keys at home if going out drinking this festive period, and to plan lifts home.

Police are also warning that patrols are being stepped up and any motorists found to be driving under the influence will face the courts.

Rachael lost her son, James docherty at the age of 17, earlier this year in a fatal car smash caused by a mixture of drugs and alcohol.

Tyrone Quinn, lost control of the car whilst driving, causing it to clip the curb and flip, before landing on its roof near Askew Road in Gateshead, near the Redheugh Bridge.

James suffered massive head injuries and tragically died at the scene. Tyrone had been driving whilst intoxicated and was allegedly more than three times over the drug drive limit for cocaine.

Rachael said: “If you are thinking of drinking or taking drugs and then getting behind the wheel of a car – think again. You may have done it before and been fine, but it only takes once.

“No mother should have to bury their child. James should have turned 18 in September, but instead of celebrating we visited the cemetery. It’s been devastating.”

RSGB NE’s drink/drug driving campaign, is being backed by Police and fire services from across the North East region. The campaign is being launched today at Newcastle College and is targeted towards those aged 18-24. Rachel Docherty will be there with road safety officers and police officers from Northumbria Police, directly talking to students about the dangers of driving under the influence.

Jon Ridley, Assistant Principal at Newcastle College, said: “Road safety is a crucial issue to raise awareness with young people, especially in the run up to the Christmas break. We value the importance of campaigns such as this and as we have a large number of young people at Newcastle College; we welcome Road Safety GB on campus to speak to our students.”

Paul Watson, Chairman of RSGB NE, said: “It’s very easy to go out with the intention of only having one drink, but during the Christmas festivities there is a tendency to get carried away and that’s where accidents happen.

“We don’t want to stop people having a good time – we just want people to be safe. James’ story is tragic – his life lost and so many other lives ruined simply because one person thought he was a great driver, even when under the influence. He was proved very wrong. We hope people make better decisions than he did that night.”

Paul also reminded people that they can still be over the limit the next morning. It takes an average of one hour for a unit of alcohol to pass through the body, meaning a pint of beer will take almost two-and-a-half hours to wear off, as will a large glass of wine.

In the years between 2011 and 2015, 46 people were killed on the region’s roads due to a suspected drink/drug driver, 297 were seriously injured, and a further 1,567 were slightly injured. In 2015 alone, 80 people were killed or seriously injured – the highest number for six years.

Casualties across the North East resulting from collisions involving drink and drug drivers from 2011 to 2015 can be seen below –

Authority Fatal Serious Slight Total
County Durham 21 73 409 503
Darlington 3 9 67 79
Gateshead 2 20 138 160
Hartlepool 0 12 42 54
Middlesbrough 0 12 43 55
Newcastle upon Tyne 4 29 155 188
North Tyneside 3 17 114 134
Northumberland 3 57 205 265
Redcar and Cleveland 4 16 70 90
South Tyneside 2 11 71 84
Stockton-on-Tees 1 13 64 78
Sunderland 3 28 189 220
Total 46 297 1,567 1,910

Shockingly, Sunderland is one of the local authorities with the higher rates of fatalities resulting from drink/drug driving.

Northumbria Police Motor Patrols Chief Inspector, Dave Guthrie, said: “Drink and drug-driving destroys lives and James Docherty’s family have been torn apart because of an incident that should never be allowed to happen.

“In December we know people are more likely to try and take a chance and get behind the wheel. They may have been at a Christmas party or be enjoying the festive period and think that a couple of drinks won’t affect their ability to drive. Those people are wrong.”

For any help and advice check out the Road Safety GB website – http://www.roadsafetygb.org.uk/pages/advice.html

Do you know when your over the limit? Find out here – Alcohol units graph RSGB NE

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